Leave No Trace Principle 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

𝐏𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝟐: 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐚𝐦𝐩 𝐨𝐧 𝐃𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐒𝐮𝐫𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐬
𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝟐: 𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐩 𝐇𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐫 𝐉𝐚𝐧𝐞 𝐆𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐇𝐞𝐫 𝐂𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐞

Wisconsin Prairie by Abbey Holden

Hiking is a great way to have an immersive experience in nature. Trail route and condition can play a large role in how we perceive the land around us. Land Managers, like Carpenter Nature Center, work hard to establish and maintain trails that help visitors to experience the land while preserving its natural features. You can do your part by traveling in a way that minimizes your impact and ensures the longevity of your favorite trail.

The easiest way to minimize your travel impact is to stay on trail. Cutting corners, skipping switchbacks and walking around mud puddles can widen existing trails or create what is known as a “social trail”. Social trails are the result of repeated, informal use. The consequences can be high and include the trampling of vegetation and exposure of bare soil to erosion, further degrading the trail. Once a social trail is established it can be difficult to prevent continued use.

If you are in an area that does not have an established trail, it is important to understand changing land cover and the capacity of each to withstand human travel. 𝑬𝒙𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒓𝒐𝒄𝒌, 𝒈𝒓𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒍 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒅 are great options for travel. All three surfaces are durable and can withstand repeated trampling. Just be sure to watch out for moss and lichens that may be covering rocks. These are more delicate and should be avoided when possible.

When it is safe to do so, 𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒏𝒐𝒘 are also great options. The disturbance caused by travel is temporary. Vegetation can be tricky and you should use your best judgement.

𝑫𝒓𝒚 𝒈𝒓𝒂𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒔 are most resistant and should be used over other vegetation. Wildflowers, moss, lichens and wetland vegetation are examples of sensitive areas that should be avoided.

Cyrptobiotic Soil

𝑪𝒓𝒚𝒑𝒕𝒐𝒃𝒊𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒄, or living, soils are one of the most vulnerable surfaces to foot travel. Living soil can be found in desert environments and is often referred to as a “crust”. One footstep on living soil can disturb communities of living organisms that are important to the health of the environment. These footprints can be “permanent”, lasting for years!

To practice traveling on durable surfaces complete today’s activity! Head to our Facebook page and help Hiker Jane get back to camp using only durable surfaces.

Happy Hiking!