Of course, autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year to get out into nature for fall hiking. The leaves are starting to change and the temperature is starting to cool, which makes the conditions ideal for fall foliage hikes.
No matter which fall hiking places top your list, please remember to be responsible and take part in keeping nature a safe environment for all. That’s where the organization Leave No Trace and their seven principles come in. Some are common sense and others you may not be aware of, but it’s important to incorporate these ideas into your fall foliage hiking trips.
Leave No Trace Principles While Fall Hiking
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Whether you head out in September or go further into the season to enjoy late fall hiking, it’s important to prepare ahead of time. Take along snacks and water. Wear good shoes or hiking boots that are already broken in. Put a mini first aid kit into your backpack.
Also, check the weather and be aware of wind, storms, and especially hot or cold weather. Sometimes preparing is half of the battle!
Travel on Durable Surfaces
Hiking in the mountains or looking for some great falls? Virginia – my home state – has some of the best hiking trails in the US, and the trails are there for a reason. Stay on already marked trails to minimize damage to the environment.
Sure, it’s fun to venture off of the path when you are able, but don’t do it at the expense of damaging an ecosystem. Avoid stepping in shallow waterways and on small plants. Sustainable surfaces can handle the impact and weight of a human with little to no damage.
No matter which fall hiking places top your list, it’s important to remember to be responsible and take part in keeping nature a safe environment for all.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Think ahead, even when it comes to disposing of trash while fall hiking, so take a bag along or designate a compartment of your pack to garbage. And if you see litter on the trail – pick it up. If you’re out for a really, really long hike, there are also principles to disposing of human waste, and when nature calls, it’s hard to resist at times.
Leave What You Find
Great fall hikes often lead to new discoveries. Plants, animals, and flowers are beautiful to observe, yet taking them home with you can strip the area of what the animals need to survive. Sure, if you take one thing, it may not hurt, but if everyone did the same thing, our natural areas would go away in a hurry. In the age of smartphones, it’s best to just snap a photo to save.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Even if you are fall hiking northeast areas, where it’s a bit colder, you most likely won’t be starting a fire while merely hiking. If you do, be sure it is contained and put out before you leave the site, and if you observe an active campfire that someone else left, try to extinguish it.
Of course, if it’s out of control, call the experts as fires can spread quickly. It’s important that the places for the best hikes in America (or anywhere else for that matter) stay that way!
Sure, chipmunks are cute, but there’s no need to take one home! All joking aside (but they are adorable!), remember that you are in their environment. Respect animals, be quiet, leave them alone, and don’t feed them. Do your best to enjoy their natural habitat while being respectful of it.
The same goes for plants. Be careful where you step as you may be harming small saplings, and don’t break off limbs or fell small trees to clear a path.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
You probably look fabulous in your fall hiking outfit, but don’t hog the trail getting the perfect photo for Instagram. Also, be respectful of your noise level. Talk softly, yield to others on the trail, and know that others are out there with the same purpose as you – to enjoy the best hikes in North America and beyond!
Want to know more about responsible fall hiking?
Want to know more about doing your part while fall hiking? Just click here to read more about these seven principles and how you can help keep trails and natural areas as you found them. Happy fall hiking!
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