8 Ways to Reduce Your Impact While Hiking

One of the main reasons people go hiking is to experience the beauty of nature. Sure, there are other reasons why people hike, but you rarely come across a hiker who says, “I’m just not that into nature”. Of course, it’s our responsibility as hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts to help make sure that we protect the environment that we love spending our time in.

Most people don’t think of hiking as an especially damaging activity, but the actions of many hikers can have a significant effect on the environment over time.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. If you’re planning on hiking this weekend, take the opportunity to learn how you can practice good environmental stewardship while spending time outdoors. Here are 7 ways to reduce your impact while hiking.

Stay on the trail

Foot traffic can cause a lot of damage. Fortunately, there are these convenient trails that happen to lead exactly where you’re going! Avoid taking shortcuts and bushwhacking off-trail to reduce your impact.

Don’t go around it

This is under the umbrella of “stay on the trail”. People are inclined to walk around mud puddles, downed trees, or logs in the middle of the trail. Go over, under, and through obstacles on the trail.

Pack out what you pack in

Always bring a trash bag any time you go hiking. This is true for day hikes as well as overnight backpacking trips. Eliminate as much trash as you can before you hit the trail, to reduce the amount of trash you have to carry out. Also, consider picking up litter you find along the trail.

Hold it

Use toilets at trailheads whenever possible. Of course, sometimes there’s no resisting when nature calls. If toilets are not an option, properly bury solid human waste 200 feet from water sources.

Leave it where you found it

There’s an old saying, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”. The idea is that you should leave nature the way that you found it. It’s tempting to grab a souvenir, but imagine if every person who hiked the trail took something.

Go the hard way

Hike on hard, durable surfaces like rocks if you’re not on a trail. This helps reduce erosion and preserves plant life.

Camp where someone has camped before

If backpacking, or camping while hiking, use only established campgrounds. Establishing a new campsite has a significant impact on the environment.

Leave the critters alone

Forest animals are often cute and cuddly looking, but don’t pet, feed, or otherwise engage with them. Keep wild animals wild.


Looking for outdoor gear in Northwest Arkansas? Stop by and see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters before your next adventure!

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