camping tent on grassy surface


Leave No Trace

Publication date: 28 May 2024

Hiking 101Sustainability

Hiking allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, traversing untouched landscapes, ascending peaks, and crossing the great outdoors. While hiking is an eco-friendly activity, particularly long-distance or thru-hiking, it’s always crucial to consciously minimize our environmental impact and Leave No Trace.

As a hiker, no matter if you’re only on a day hike or if you hit the longer trails, you play an important role in preserving the natural beauty of trails and wilderness areas for future generations. The Leave No Trace principles are a set of guidelines designed to help hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts minimize their environmental impact. These principles apply to a wide range of outdoor activities and settings.

Jochem de Jong profile picture

Jochem de Jong

Jochem de Jong is a Dutch photographer and the technical guy behind this website. With his passion for photography and design he makes sure that every page on this website looks perfect. The last years Jochem hiked 20+ long-distance trails, mainly in Europe from the Coast to Coast in England to mountain hut trekkings in the Dolomites. Most of the photos on this website Jochem shot on the trails.

Besides hiking, Jochem loves Italy and most of all the dreamy countryside of Tuscany which at one day, he hopes to run a small B&B besides his work as a photographer.

View profile

Embracing the Leave No Trace Principles

If you’re an experienced hiker, you already know how important this is. You can help a great deal by sharing these principles with your hiking friends when they’re hitting the trails for the first time.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics outlines seven fundamental principles to help hikers minimize their environmental impact. These guidelines serve as a blueprint for sustainable outdoor activities, applicable in diverse settings, from remote wilderness to national parks.

  1. Planning and preparation: effective planning can mitigate your impact on the environment. This includes understanding the area’s regulations, weather conditions, and terrain.
  2. Staying on the trails and camping: stick to established trails and camp on durable surfaces to prevent damaging the ecosystem.
  3. Waste management: pack out all trash, including biodegradable items. Use a small shovel (trowel) to bury human waste at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water sources, trails, and campsites.
  4. Respect for nature: leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them to preserve the natural habitat.
  5. Minimizing campfire impacts: use a camp stove for cooking. If you must have a fire, keep it small and use established fire rings only when allowed.
  6. Respect wildlife: observe wildlife from a distance, and do not feed animals to avoid altering their natural behaviors.
  7. Consideration of other hikers: Respect other trail users and protect the quality of their experience by keeping noise levels down and maintaining small group sizes.
    man pitching his tent

Eco-friendly transportation and camping

Consider your mode of transportation to the trailhead. Trains, particularly in Europe, offer a sustainable alternative with extensive networks. Carpooling is another eco-friendly option, reducing the number of vehicles on the road. If flying is unavoidable, consider carbon offset programs to balance the emissions.

When camping, aim to use established sites to minimize disturbance. If such sites are not available, select areas with minimal vegetation and compact soil to prevent damage. Always ensure you leave the site as you found it, without any trace of your stay.

Sustainable practices

Beyond the Leave No Trace principles, you can increase your sustainability by:

  • Selecting eco-friendly brands for your gear.
  • Preparing vegetarian meals to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Using biodegradable products like soap and toothpaste.
  • Minimizing plastic use by opting for reusable containers and utensils.

Your actions can significantly impact preserving nature for future generations. If you have innovative ideas or practices for sustainable hiking, sharing them can contribute to a broader community effort toward environmental stewardship. For more detailed information and tips on sustainable hiking, visit the Leave No Trace website.

Leave no Trace


Be the first one to comment on this blog!

Reply to this blog

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reply to this blog

Log in to comment on this blog

Join the community!

Login or create a FREE account 😊

With an account you can:

Download GPX files

Pin trails to your wishlist

Mark trails as hiked by you

Rate hiking trails

Comment on trails, blogs and gear reviews

Happy trails!

Don't have an account yet? Register here