How to be a Good Citizen in the Wild


Backcountry travel isn’t about boldly going where no man has gone before. It’s about treading lightly on established trails whenever possible. Blazing new ones scars the land. Take your cues from the Wilderness Act of 1964: Wilderness is “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Here are a few guidelines:

  1. When traveling off-trail, avoid sensitive soils and vegetation. Group members should spread out so you don’t create paths.

  2. Camp in high-use areas whenever possible, to avoid creating new campsites.

  3. Avoid camping closer than 200 feet (about 70 steps) to water and trails.

  4. Pack out all trash. Inspect campsites for litter before moving on.

  5. Bury human waste (i.e. feces) thoroughly in small “cat holes” dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, trails, or camp. Use white, unscented toilet paper sparingly. Bury it well in the cat hole or place in a sealable bag and pack out.

  6. Leave rocks, plants, and artifacts as you find them for others to enjoy.

  7. Camp stoves are preferable to campfires in many areas because they eliminate the need for firewood and help to leave no trace.

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About the Teacher

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Anna Dubrovsky
Anna Dubrovsky is an award-winning journalist and author whose productivity has plummeted with the birth... Read more