Every month millions of people take at least a one day hike into the wilderness either using a national hiking trail or a local park trail. There are significant physical and emotional benefits of getting out into nature and going for a long walk, including stress reduction and better core strength. However, more people hiking means more stress on the environment and more potential damage that could be done to the ecosystem in the area. Hikers who are enjoying some time in the outdoors should always be considerate of the land and make sure that they do these five things to protect the health and beauty of the places they like to hike:
Use A Trail Map – You should always use a trail map when you’re hiking. A trail map will ensure that you will be able to find out where you need to go if your GPS goes down or our phone isn’t working. And a trail map will also help protect the environment by keeping hikers on the trails that are designed for them. Staying on the trails that are just for hikers will help minimize damage to the trails in the area and the plants and grasses that grow along the trails. Trail maps are usually posted at regular intervals on long trails but on shorter trails, you will need to have a paper copy of the map.
Know Where The Safe Water Is – You will probably need to fill up your water bottle at least once during the hike. You also may want to clean up a little if you are going on an overnight hike. On your trail map mark off sources of water that are safe and clean for you to use that will not contaminate the water that the animals in the area drink. If you are washing up or washing out your water bottle with soap, make sure that you only use water that is at least 300 yards from any water source that animals use to do that.
Take Out The Trash – You should be eating before, during, and after your hike to keep your energy up. However, you should not be leaving your food wrappers and trash in the wild. Never litter or leave your trash behind. If everyone did that the area would soon be buried in trash. Take all of your trash with you and dispose of it properly in trash and recycling containers. There are usually trash bins at the start and end of the trail, and if there are picnic spots on the trail there may be trash containers there too.
Don’t Disturb The Animals – The animals who live in the wild may be used to humans walking by but that doesn’t mean that they’re tame or that you should try to approach them. They are still wild animals who could get angry or frightened if you approach them. They also could be made sick by food designed for humans so don’t try to lure them over to you with food.
Don’t Take Shortcuts – If you get a particularly tough section of trail you might be tempted to take a shortcut and avoid it. Don’t. When you go off the trail and make your own trails you can permanently damage the soil and the landscape in that area.
Guest blogger, Rachel Gaffney works for Personal Injury Help, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. When she is not working, Rachel enjoys hiking and exploring new trails nearby!
This article was created Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), 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.