Scenic beauty is a precious treasure that makes our hiking and exploring experiences worth all of the effort. That breath-taking view from the top of the peak, that waterfall you can hear bubbling just around the bend, that spectacular skyscape when the sun sinks into the horizon — that kind of beauty stirs something in our souls. It’s worth preserving. It should be there when we’re gone.
That’s why it’s important to practice conscious hiking and exploring to make sure that we are leaving places like we found them. Here are some exploring and hiking tips to help you preserve scenic beauty the next time you’re venturing out.
Abide by the ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
The seven tenets of the ‘Leave No Trace’ philosophy are indispensable for any responsible explorer. At its core, the principle instructs travelers to take only photographs and leave only footprints. This includes packing out any trash, avoiding the creation of new trails, and refraining from picking flowers or moving rocks. The seven principles are:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
Stick to Designated Trails
Veering off the established paths might sound thrilling, but it contributes to soil erosion and habitat destruction. Sticking to designated trails helps protect the local environment and maintain the natural aesthetic.
Make sure to carry reusable containers for food and water, and bring your own utensils. Avoid using plastic bags or other single-use items. You can also help reduce your waste by limiting packaging. For example, rather than bringing individually packaged snacks, you can bring your snacks in reusable containers.
Volunteer for Trail Maintenance and Clean-Up
Many local and national park services organize volunteer programs. Participating in a clean-up or trail maintenance venture can be a rewarding way to give back to the trails and parks you love.
By making conscious choices and practicing responsible behaviors, we can ensure that the scenic beauty we love is preserved for future generations.
Here at Scenic America, we value our country’s scenic beauty and want to see it persist. We work to preserve the Scenic Byways, landscapes, and towns that define our nation’s visual character. Donate today to help us protect our beautiful places and the heart of our country’s character!