Hike Series: Leave No Trace

Last Friday, Shenandoah National Park Trust held our first hike of the year in the Park. The hike was led by Leah Cawthorn, a Volunteer and Youth Project leader with the Appalachian Conservation Corps. Leah spoke to attendees about the seven principles of Leave No Trace, which are important to understand for those visiting the outdoors. While it was a blustery day, we enjoyed this informative hike and time spent outside in the Park!

Leave No Trace is a set of seven principles that aim to minimize impact on outdoor spaces. These principles can be used in your backyard, in a city park, or in the backcountry.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare. Planning ahead for your visit to Shenandoah is the first step in helping preserve the Park and your experience here. Know and follow the regulations. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rocks, gravel, and grasses. Stay on trails to keep from trampling fragile vegetation. Avoid shortcutting trails; shortcuts create new trails and increase trail erosion.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly. Keep the Park clean! Pack out all trash and food scraps from backcountry/wilderness areas. When backpacking, deposit solid human waste in a hole at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet from water, camp, and park trails.
  4. Leave What You Find. All plants, animals, rocks, and artifacts are protected in Shenandoah National Park. Preserve the sense of discovery for others by leaving all natural and cultural artifacts as you find them. Take pictures, write poetry, or sketch to help you remember what you discover here.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts. Campfires are prohibited in Shenandoah’s backcountry!
  6. Respect Wildlife. Shenandoah is home to many animals, and we are visitors to their home. Carry binoculars and observe wildlife from a distance. If an animal changes its behavior because of your presence, you are too close. Never feed wildlife.
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors. People visit Shenandoah National Park for many different reasons. Preserve the Park experience for all visitors by showing courtesy towards others. Excessive noise, unleashed pets, and damaged surroundings take away from everyone’s experience. Preserve a sense of solitude by hiking in small groups. Keep noise levels down when hiking and camping. Observe quiet hours in Park campgrounds.

If you are interested in attending Shenandoah National Park Trust organized hikes in the Park, check out our events page for more information or email  edigney@snptrust.org.

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