8 Minimum Impact Practices on Trails

8 Minimum Impact Practices on Trails

Every week I bring hints of trails and how it is step by step for you to get on the trail, do it without stress and still enjoy something more. One of the things I say little about in these posts is about practices with minimal impact on trails.

It is a matter of education and common sense. It is even quite obvious to say that you should not throw garbage in the middle of the trail, treat other people who are walking well and plan for a good trail. I think that, because it is such an obvious question, many people end up not caring (or paying attention) about the minimum impact on trails and, therefore, I wanted to share with you what are the best practices.

8 Minimum Impact Practices on Trails

If you follow these 8 practices it’s already too good:

  • If you plan

  • Have security

  • Take care of the trails

  • Store Your Trash

  • Leave everything in its place

  • Respect the fauna and flora

  • Be friends with other hikers

  • Don't make fires

1. If you plan

It sounds silly, but planning is the first step to ensure minimal impact on trails and avoid unwanted stresses on your ride. That is why:

  • Take trash bags (both to store your trash, and to take that of other rude ones)

  • Don't forget to take water and food (fruits and natural sandwiches) for heavier trails

  • Know the ideal time to do the trail

  • Check the weather forecast for possible rains that can make the ride dangerous or less pleasurable

  • Check with park management about regulations and requirements

  • Talk to friends or acquaintances who have already hiked about what you will face

  • Watch your fitness, make the ideal trail for you

Even though it is too simple to do all of this, there are still people who forget to plan and end up wandering around for nothing.

2. Have security

Know the path you are going to take. If you don't know the trail, find out (before you go) if it has any difficulty level and if it is well signposted. It is of utmost importance that you know that rescue in natural environments can be very complicated (both to find you if you get lost, and to do the extraction in case of accidents), so:

  • Don't take any chances

  • If you do not know the location or if it has a high level of danger, hire accredited guides

  • Make sure you have the right equipment for the type of trail you're going to do

  • If you go camping, watch out for slopes or river banks

If you think you are one of those who can do any trail without help, I think it is good that you get to know El Caminito del Rey and think again. See below one of the most dangerous trails in the world:

8 Minimum Impact Practices on Trails : Caminito del Rey - Most Dangerous Trail in the World
Caminito del Rey - Most Dangerous Trail in the World

3. Take care of the trails

Like any activity that is popularized, we will find rude people and very well educated people doing trails. Therefore, it is important to be careful to cause the least possible impact on trails. Always remember:

  • Stay on the marked trails

  • Use the trash bag to clean the trail whenever possible

  • Do not write your name or your loved one on stones

  • Don't mark your initial on trees

8 Minimum Impact Practices on Trails : Trail Cleaning
Trail Cleaning

The image above is of a task force to clean a trail. But you don't necessarily need to clear the trail just at specific events. If you are equipped with your garbage bag, you can help whenever you are making one.

4. Store your trash

Even people most concerned about garbage can end up leaving a paper, bag, bottle or food along the way. So it is super important to have extra attention and always check to make sure you haven't left anything behind.

  • Don't forget your trash, always store it in the trash bags you took and remember to bring it back

  • Do not burn or bury trash

  • Use sanitary facilities whenever possible

A can or package may seem small, but when accumulated, they can turn a beautiful trail into a real dump.

5. Leave everything in its place

It is quite common, when someone is doing a trail to want to take a memory of that experience. Usually, this memory is a photo and, if so, excellent. The problem starts when the mentality arises that you will only take a small stone, flower or leaf home and that it will not affect the environment.

I wouldn't even need to talk, but imagine a thousand people doing the same thing every week. It is obvious that the degradation would be great. So if you want to keep the impact on trails to a minimum, leave everything in its proper place, don't build structures (there are people who like to make stone castles or something) and make the most of it without interfering with what's there.

There is a nice saying that is worth leaving in your mind: Take only photographs, leave only footprints and take away only memories.

6. Respect the fauna and flora

This is a continuation of what we have already said, but to avoid scenes like this:

Keep in mind that respecting fauna and flora is not to dirty the environment, not to feed animals and not to remove plants or wild flowers.

7. Be friends with other Trekkers

Education is good and everyone likes it, so:

  • Avoid making too much noise

  • Greet hikers and locals with good morning, good afternoon and good night

  • If you see someone needing help, offer

One thing I always try to do is take pictures for couples or hikers who are alone, you can be helping him to have an even better memory of the tour and it doesn't cost you more than a few seconds.

8. Don't make fires

Just to finish our eighth topic of minimal impact on trails, remember that making fires can be too dangerous. In addition to being able to cause a fire in the forest, for free you still kill the vegetation nearby and impair the quality of nutrients in the soil.

If you want to keep warm, go with the appropriate clothes, if you need to make food, take an appropriate stove and, if you want lighting, use a lantern or lantern. That simple…

To close

If you got here and found all 8 topics normal and you already practice them, great! Now, remember that not everyone has this awareness. So whenever you can, encourage people who are with you to adopt practices with minimal impact on trails.

If you can, share the posts on your networks and on groups of trails, so more and more people will adopt these practices that are essential to keep our natural heritage preserved and sustainable for future generations!

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