Sunday, May 3, 2020

How to Be a Steward of Hiking Trails

How to Be a Steward of Hiking Trails

How to Be a Steward of Hiking Trails

With so many of us savoring the charms of nature and enjoying hikes, I thought it would be useful to come up with ways that we can become better stewards of the trails. Here are some ways that we can all be stewards of our trails:


  • Check conditions and rules before going out. Checking conditions of the trails and rules of the preserve that you intend on visiting will ensure not only that you will have a wonderful hike but will help you stay safe and keep from damaging or disturbing nature. 
  • Single file when approaching other hikers. When you see other hikers, be sure to give space for them to navigate. Currently, hiking single file will make it easier to maintain a 6-foot social distance. However, it makes it easier to navigate certain trails if you move over for other hikers whether you and your group move into a single file line or move over and let others pass through narrow spots.
  • Patience with other hikers. Some hikers may take a little longer to get through tough sections than you. Be mindful and don't try to squeeze by them where it is inappropriate. 
  • What comes in goes out. Make sure if you have a snack, the refuse goes out with you. Make sure all materials you bring in comes back out with you.
  • Do not take things from the trails. Ecosystems are a delicate balance and everything has a purpose. So, it is important for the vitality to leave the system as it is. 
On the trails!
On the trails!
  • Be mindful of wildlife. Remember, you are visiting someone else's home. Familiarize yourself with the wildlife in the region you are hiking and act appropriately. Avoid startling wildlife, disturbing nesting boxes and more. 
  • Volunteer with a forest preserve. Volunteer opportunities with forest preserves opens a number of opportunities for taking care of our trails and preserves.
  • Be aware of sensitive ecosystems. Some ecosystems are particularly fragile and will suffer greatly if walked upon. A good way to prevent this is to stay on trails (which you should be doing anyway).
  • Brush boots before and after visiting a preserve. You can carry seeds of invasive species to other spots on your boots. In addition to cleaning your boots, be sure to pick off burrs, seeds, etc. that attached to your clothing during your hike before leaving.
  • Donate. Donating even a little can help organizations maintain our trails.
Happy Hiking!

How to Be a Steward of Hiking Trails

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