The 7 Leave No Trace Principles

Any outdoor activity exerts a certain pressure on our natural environments. Leave No Trace proposes 7 principles to apply during your excursions to protect the natural environment, its fauna and flora.

Follow these guidelines to adopt good habits and practice your favorite outdoor activities in an environmentally friendly manner.

1. Plan ahead and prepare

  • Know the rules, access rights, restrictions in effect, and specifics of the site.
  • Prepare for bad weather, natural hazards and other emergencies.
  • Plan trips during low-traffic periods.
  • Explore less frequented areas. Divide large groups and go out in smaller groups of 4 to 6 people.
  • Bring a compass and an up-to-date map.
  • Repack food in reusable containers to minimize waste.

2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces

  • Travel and camp on existing trails and campsites.
  • For off-trail travel, stay on durable surfaces: bare ground, rock, sand, dry grass, deep snow.
  • Avoid altering a site to camp: a good site is found, not made.
  • Protect shorelines by camping more than 60 m from lakes and streams.

In frequented areas:

  • Use designated trails and campsites.
  • Walk in single file down the middle of the trail, even if it is muddy or wet.
  • Limit the camping area. Concentrate your activities on areas without vegetation.

In pristine, remote or isolated areas:

  • Disperse its impact so as not to create new trails or campsites.
  • Avoid damaging surfaces that have suffered little or no impact.

3. Dispose of waste properly

  • Bring back waste that was carried in. Separate regular waste from hazardous waste. Burning waste in a campfire is not an acceptable solution.
  • Thoroughly inspect picnic areas and campsites for trash, food scraps, cigarette butts and other micro-waste.
  • Deposit human feces in a hole dug more than 60 m (or about 70 adult footsteps) from water sources, trails and campsites. Dig the sanitary hole in organic soil 15 to 20 cm deep and dig and camouflage after each use.
  • Pack out the toilet paper or put it in the sanitary hole.
  • Bath and wash dishes more than 60 m away from waterways. Use a minimum amount of biodegradable soap.
  • Spread soiled water in large streams through vegetation.
  • Filter food debris through a sieve and place it with the waste to be packed-out before spreading the dishwater.

4. Leave what you find

  • Preserve heritage: avoid moving or destroying traditional, historical and cultural elements and sites.
  • Leave stones, plants and all other natural objects in their original place and condition.
  • Avoid building structures, constructing furniture or digging trenches.
  • Prevent the spread of exotic invasive species by removing mud and debris from shoes, clothing and equipment.

5. Minimize campfire impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts: cooking on a portable stove is a good solution.
  • Place barbecues, fire boxes and portable stoves on durable surfaces.
  • Protect soil and roots from burning.
  • If open fires are allowed, use designated locations. Keep fires small.
  • If wood collection is allowed, burn only dead wood that is collected from the ground and can be broken up by hand.
  • Allow pieces of wood and embers to reduce to ash. Completely extinguish fires and check that ashes are cool before leaving the area.

6. Respect wildlife

  • Leave the field clear for the animals and observe them from a distance.
  • Move away at the first sign of nervousness or change in behavior.
  • Refrain from feeding animals to avoid harming their health, altering their behavior, or exposing them to predators or other hazards.
  • Store food, garbage and other odorous products in a bear-proof barrel, in facilities provided on site, or in car trunks.
  • Avoid disturbing animals during sensitive breeding, nesting and calf rearing periods, or during winter.
  • Keep control of a pet or leave it safely at home. Pick up after your dog or bury feces in a sanitary hole.

7. Be considerate of others

  • Act with courtesy. On a narrow trail, give way to uphill hikers.
  • Pull over along the trail to give priority to people with mobility aids.
  • Take breaks on durable surfaces off the trail.
  • Give freedom for the sounds of nature to be heard. Avoid excessive noise. Wear headphones if using electronic devices.
  • Limit the use of drones to areas where they are permitted and following the rules.
  • On social networks, post photos that demonstrate behavior to better protect natural environments.