Here are some tips on how to be respectful and sustainable on the trails.
1. STAY ON THE TRAIL
Mountain vegetation is unique and fragile due to the high elevation, short growing season, and extremes in weather. By staying on the designated trails you protect what takes so long to mature. As tempting as it may be, don’t cut the switchbacks and trample the flora that needs to survive.
2. YIELD TO UPHILL HIKERS
Uphill hikers have the right away, so as you are headed back down from a hike and come upon heavy breathing uphill traffic, step aside. Horses also have the right of way – move calmly off the trail to prevent spooking the horse and causing an injury.
3. LET FASTER HIKERS PASS
If faster hikers approach, let them pass. They may be hiking a longer distance requiring a faster pace. If you are the speedier one, announce yourself early and do it in a way that doesn’t frighten the hiker ahead.
4. PACK OUT WHAT YOU PACK IN
Never litter. Even those biodegradables are a no-no. Orange peels, apple cores, and pistachio shells stay around for a very long time. Remember: “Leave no trace.”
5. DON’T PICK THE WILDFLOWERS
Leave the wildflowers for others to enjoy. Some are protected by law, others will not reproduce if picked. They look better in nature anyway.
6. WHEN MOTHER NATURE CALLS
Should Mother Nature call on you and you need to step off the trail, be sure to move to a spot 200 feet from a lake or creek. We need to protect the wild water, too.
7. LEASH YOUR DOG
Dogs running free can frighten people, horses, and wildlife. The law requires dogs to be leashed within wilderness areas. Be sure to carry out those doggie poop bags, as well!
8. KEEP THE WILDLIFE WILD
Feeding animals in the wild “people” food can cause them serious health problems. What’s more, it makes wild animals lose their natural fear of people. Feeding can make large, potentially dangerous animals become too comfortable around humans. Once animals learn they can panhandle for food, they can become a nuisance or a safety risk.
9. MAINTAIN A QUIET PRESENCE
You will see more mammals and birds in their natural habitats with lowered voices, whispers, and silence. A hushed voice is just more befitting of the natural environment and enables others to enjoy it, as well.
Be cordial to your fellow hikers and smile at them as you pass by. After all, mountain exploration is exhilarating and you are sharing this beautiful experience!
(List compiled by Author Susan Linden, Aspen, CO)