Hiking Tips

Low-Impact Hiking and Camping

To help ensure quality backcountry experiences for fellow outdoors people and future generations, we encourage our customers to join us in practicing low-impact hiking and camping.


Carry in, carry out. Before you hit the trail, repackage food into reusable containers. When empty, the containers can hold waste until you can dispose of it properly. Pack everything that you carry into the backcountry back out with you.

  1. In bear country, protect wildlife, your food supply and yourself by storing rations securely. Seek advice from park rangers on proper food storage.
  2. Some parks install bear-resistant containers or poles (for hanging "bear-bagged" food) in backcountry sites. Pick up and clean up spilled foods.
  3. Use a backpacking stove to prepare meals. It takes less time and has less impact on the environment than building a campfire. In addition, many areas prohibit the use of campfires except in designated areas.


Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings or fire pans. Do not scorch large rocks or overhangs.

  1. Keep your fire small. Gather sticks no larger than an adult wrist. Leave branches on trees, even if they are downed or dead.
  2. Put out campfires completely. In the morning, remove all unburned trash from the fire ring and scatter the cold ashes over a large area well away from camp.


Visit the backcountry in small groups and try to avoid popular areas during peak-use periods.

  1. Stay on designated trails and walk in single file in the center of the path to avoid trampling trailside plants.
  2. Many grasses and sub-alpine plants are extremely sensitive to foot traffic. If you must venture beyond the trail, choose the most durable surfaces to walk on (rock, gravel or snow).


Choose an established, legal site. If you are wilderness camping, pick a previously used campsite when available to decrease impact on terrain.

  1. Good campsites are found, not made. Don't alter a site for your own purposes by clearing vegetation, building structures or digging trenches.


Set up camp in areas where vegetation is compacted or absent. Camp at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from lakes and streams to help keep pollutants out of water sources.

  1. For bathing or dishwashing, haul water 200 feet from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. A small bowl of water and one baby wipe provide a thorough bath. Strain your dishwater and scatter it or bury it in a hole so it won't attract insects. Use gravel or sand to clean pots and pans.
  2. Deposit human waste in a hole, six-to-eight inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, trails and your campsite. Use toilet paper sparingly. Pack it out in fragile areas or where required.
  3. Check your campsite to make sure you have removed all refuse and other evidence of your stay. Make sure you scan the tent area for small items that could inadvertently be left behind.

Keeping the "wild" in wilderness

Leave plants, rocks and historical artifacts for others to enjoy.

  1. Domestic animals and wild country often don't mix. Most state and national parks prohibit dogs or require them to be on leashes. If you must take your dog with you, make sure it is under control at all times. Do not allow it to chase other animals or become a problem for other hikers or campers.

Enjoy your adventure in the backcountry. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.

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