Because of climate change, you hear a lot about how our carbon footprints negatively impact the environment. The term carbon footprint mostly refers to greenhouse gases and other pollutants released into the air. However, there is another bad footprint we leave in the great outdoors that is the result of hiking excursions.

Hiking represents one of the best ways to interact with nature. You walk at your own pace and stop to literally smell the roses at your leisure. However, far too many hikers irrevocably alter the fragile ecosystems that exist in wilderness settings.

Let’s look at five tips you can use to preserve nature while hiking:

  1. Plastic is Not Our Friend

Minshall TrailLegendary comedian George Carlin once joked that the Earth should have no problem absorbing the plastic we leave behind. Yet the opposite is true, as a rapidly growing amount of plastic is slowly choking marine life out of the Pacific Ocean. We all need a little energy boost when we navigate rugged terrain, but make sure your source of liquid replenishment comes in the form of a reusable bottle. Using a metal canteen to drink water is another eco-friendly idea to preserve nature while hiking.

  1. Make Snacks Using Local Ingredients

Do you want a boost in protein from a trail mix or a batch of granola?  Make your own snacks by sourcing ingredients found locally. You kill two birds with one stone by saving money on food costs, as well as helping to preserve the fragile ecosystem. Packaged snacks also tend to have too many artificial ingredients. If you want to take the local connection to another level, dine at local restaurants that use sustainable ingredients for the items on their menus.

  1. Speaking of Local

If hiking is your way to lose yourself with nature, you don’t have to drive hundreds of miles to get your nature fix. Any fuel consumed by a car, train or airplane is like a carbon tax placed on Mother Nature. Even if you live in a predominantly urban area, there are plenty of hiking options that are a short drive or bicycle trip away. You can even walk to the starting point of a local trail.

  1. Nature’s Mementos are a No-No

fern driftsWhen you hike through the grandeur of nature, there is a strong temptation to bring something home to commemorate the adventure. Nonetheless, nature’s fragile ecosystem might greatly depend on the memento or two you display on the fireplace mantel at home. The only things you should take away from a hike are photographs and a bundle of lifelong memories.

  1. Never Leave the Trail

You know about the arrows in shopping center parking lots that direct the flow of traffic? Well, you are probably like most people when you take shortcuts that go against the grain. On a hike, you have to stay on the trail to prevent the delicate balance nature has created in front of you. Never take shortcuts for two reasons: to avoid getting lost and to preserve nature while hiking.


This article was created by Personal Injury Help (, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only.