Leave No Trace: Preserving Nature While Hiking



Did you know that hiking is a great activity, both mentally and physically?
The beauty of nature is awe-inspiring—even breathtaking at times—and
hiking within it is a great way to relieve the stress and anxious thoughts
which may cloud your mind.

From Highland Park and its iconic Reservoir Loop Trail to Emerald View
Park with its view of the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline and historic spaces,
Pittsburgh parks and trails offer sights worth seeing.

While hiking offers so many benefits, there are certain actions that hikers
sometimes take which can in fact harm the environment.

Here are a few of the best ways to preserve nature while hiking:

Stay on the Designated Path. Simple enough, right? While this may seem
trivial, oftentimes hikers find themselves indulging their sense of adventure
and trekking toward the roads less travelled. By hiking off designated
paths, you risk damaging plants local to those off-path areas. Those plants
are a major source of food for many animals. Our park paths and trails
have been carefully planned and maintained. Please enjoy the trails as you
like and refrain from going off-trail.

Don’t Feed Wild Animals. Regardless of where you hike in Pittsburgh,
you’ll probably encounter some wild animals. While it may seem fun to feed
these animals, whether chipmunks or deer, you really shouldn’t. Feeding
wild animals is dangerous to them because their bodies are not designed to
digest the same foods we digest. In addition to this, feeding animals will
encourage them to lose their natural fear of humans, which could be
dangerous for hikers.

Pick Up Your Trash. You should know already how bad littering is for the
environment and how harmful it can be for the animals who find themselves
eating or stepping through it. Did you know that you can be fined up to
$1000 for littering in Pennsylvania? Moral of the story: if you have trash,
please dispose of it in either a trash or recycling can. Also, Mr. Rogers
taught us all the importance of being good neighbors. If you see trash that
is not yours on your hike, pick it up.

Bring Reusable Water Bottles and Bags. If you haven’t already, you
should consider making the switch to reusable water bottles and bags. Did
you know that in the U.S., there are 35 billion plastic water bottles thrown
away each year? Just by making a simple switch from plastic water bottles
and bags to reusable ones, you will significantly cut down over time on the
amount that gets thrown away.

Build Safe Campfires. If you’re doing an overnight hiking trip, always
make sure that you build a safe campfire. The USDA has great tips on what
to do on their website. To summarize, they say to never leave your
campfire unattended, keep your campfire small, and to make sure to find a
level spot for your campfire.

These small measures can truly make a huge difference over time! What
are some of your favorite ways to preserve nature while hiking?