Spending time outdoor hiking is one of the best things that you can do for your health and because it’s so easy millions of people are doing it. All you really need to hike are some sturdy boots, comfortable clothes, and water. That’s part of the reason why more than 44 million people each year lace up their boots and hit the trails. However, all those millions of people hiking each year take a huge toll on the natural world. Hikers who aren’t careful can contribute to major damage of the natural world. When you’re hiking always do these five things to help preserve and protect the natural world around you:
Leash Your Dog
Dogs are welcome on almost all hiking trails, but only if they are leashed. Dogs that are allowed to run off the leash can chew up plants, dig up grass, scratch up tree bark, and bark at animals and other hikers. They sometimes also chase and even kill small animals that live near the trail. That’s why you need to keep your dog on a leash, and make sure that you clean up after your dog the same way you would if you were in your own yard.
Clean Up After Yourself
Your dog isn’t the only one that you need to pick up after. Any trash that you make when you’re hiking should be packed up and taken with you. Once you’re out of the trail area you can throw away or recycle your trash. Never litter in the trail area or leave trash behind for someone else to pick up. Your trash is your responsibility. Trash is one of the biggest destroyers of the natural world so it’s essential that hikers don’t leave trash lying around.
Single use plastic bottles are terrible for the environment and there’s way too many of them. Instead of bringing single use plastic bottles full of water on your hike buy a large refillable water bottle and bring that with you. It will hold more water than a plastic bottle and it’s much better for the environment. A water bottle with a built-in filter designed for hiking is a smart purchase if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking. That way you can refill the bottle as you hike.
Clean Your Boots
Always clean your boots after a hike so that you can get rid of any dirt and bacteria that has become embedded on the bottom of your boots. If you don’t clean your boots you could carry seeds and bacteria from one area to another which could have terrible consequences like causing an invasive plant species to kill off the vegetation in another hiking area.
Don’t Approach the Animals
If you’re very quiet and you’re lucky you may come across animals on your hike. Leave them alone. They are wild animals and you’re a guest in their habitat. Don’t offer them food or try to lure them to come to you for a selfie. Take a photo if you really want to preserve the moment and then move along and leave them alone. Let them live in peace.