Don’t Pick Wildflowers – Leave them for others to enjoy. By picking wildflowers, you’re disturbing the ecosystem and not allowing those flowers to multiply for next year. 

Don’t Litter – This one feels like it should be obvious. If you brought a snack and it has a wrapper, keep it in your pocket or backpack and throw it out in a trash can or bring it back home with you. Remember, pack in, pack out, and leave no trace!

Do Stay On Trail – Especially when you’re dealing with switchbacks or heavily trafficked trails, it can be tempting to forge a new shortcut, but by doing so, you’re damaging the trail. Your footsteps could be destroying plant life and/or creating a new path for water to erode the mountainside.

Don’t Blast Your Music When you’re out in nature, make a point to be out in nature. If you want to listen to music, use headphones, but don’t play music on your phone or speakers at a volume that’s going to negatively affect someone else’s hiking, biking, camping, or trail experience.

Do Be Aware of Your Group – Hiking in groups, whether you’re with friends or small children, means you’ve got a lot of heads to keep track of. Make sure you’re hiking single file (or moving into single file formation when passing other hikers) and staying aware of other people using the trail. Avoid yelling or carrying on loud conversations so you don’t disturb wildlife, while also letting other hikers enjoy the serenity of nature and be aware of your hiking companions’ pace. 

Don’t Build or Destroy Cairns – Those cool towers of rocks on the trail? In many places, they have a purpose, and it’s to serve as a trail marker for users who might otherwise get lost. Sure, they can be fun to build, but leave them to the pros, so you don’t risk sending someone off-trail. Building cairns along waterways like streams, rivers, and creeks might create an interesting visual for us humans but removing/moving rocks from the riverbed has negative effects on the fish and animals that rely on aquatic macroinvertebrates that call those rocks and stones home.

Do Show Kindness to Your Fellow Trail-Users – Say hi! Smile! Share the trail! We know, it can be frustrating when your relaxing day in nature is spent surrounded by everyone else who thought to get the same break from the outside world, but we can make it better by being kind to each other. Similarly, if you see someone struggling on the trail, don’t be rude. Potentially offer help/guidance or start a conversation. We were all beginners at one point.