Hiking and camping are fun activities that boost your health, give you the chance to travel, and allow you to enjoy nature. Spending time outside also lowers your stress level, encourages you to exercise, and allows you to eat healthily.
These unique benefits are thanks to the peaceful experience that being surrounded by and connecting with nature provides.
That’s why it’s important to preserve the natural environment along the trails and around the campsite to maintain its pristine condition. Doing so also ensures hikers and campers have something to come back to when they have the urge to spend time outdoors.
Whether you are a first-timer or an experienced adventurer, here are the things you can do to care for nature while hiking and camping.
Research Your Destination
When planning for a hiking or camping trip, make sure that you’ve done your research on the trail or campsite you’ll be visiting. Understand the rules of the venue before booking your trip to know how you can care for the site and its surrounding environment.
You should also see what amenities are available, especially if you’re going camping, so you can plan out the appropriate outfit and know what items you should bring.
Knowing the available resources at the site also allows you to arrange your meals and decide if you should cook over a campfire or bring your own packed sandwich instead.
Looking up the weather forecast for your target date and destination is another must to ensure that you are well-prepared and avoid accidents that come with unpredictable weather conditions.
Familiarizing yourself with the route of the trail or the appearance of the campsite, even if it’s just through pictures, is another thing you should do so you’ll know what to expect during your trip. It also allows you to plan a safe itinerary based on your group’s capabilities and the condition of the area.
Make a Checklist and Pack Accordingly
After knowing the details of your hiking trail or campsite, the next step is to write down things you’ll need for the trip. Aim to keep this list as short as possible since you should be packing light, but make sure that you’ll include essential items that will keep you safe.
If you’re sleeping on the ground, make sure you have the right equipment to keep you warm and comfortable. Having a light source is also important if you’re hiking before sunrise or will be camping overnight.
Consider taking an eco-friendly bug spray as well to avoid insect bites, and some locally sourced trail mix packed in a reusable container so you’ll have something to snack on.
Don’t forget to bring water (stored in a reusable water bottle, of course!) to keep you properly hydrated. Additionally, opt for washable utensils and plates instead of disposable ones to reduce the trash you produce.
Those are just some of the staples usually brought on a hiking or camping trip, and you can add more to them depending on the weather conditions and amenities available at your destination.
Stay on the Trail and at the Campsite
Hiking trails and campsites were made for a reason; to give visitors areas they can follow and relax in without disturbing the natural environment surrounding these spaces.
Going off the designated hiking route may cause damage to the delicate foliage around it and disturb the natural systems and wildlife in the area. Other hikers might also follow your lead of straying from the trail, resulting in multiple routes and causing more damage.
Similarly, you should stay within a used or designated campsite to minimize the disruption of setting up camp in a natural environment. Pitching tents and burning campfires can cause long-term damage to the grasslands, so it’s best to set up a used campsite to contain the damage in one place.
Mind Your Campfire
An overnight camping trip is not complete without a campfire that will keep you warm and give you light through the night. However, this element is still a natural hazard that you should pay attention to.
Make sure that the fire is made in an existing pit or campfire ring so that you don’t create new bonfire scars. If there is no used pit, ensure that the spot you choose is safe and is at least 15 feet away from flammable objects (tents, low-hanging branches, shrubs, etc).
Moreover, you should only put wood in your campfire pit. Do not burn your trash and leftover food in it as these materials release toxic chemicals into the air that can negatively affect you, your fellow campers, and the surrounding environment.
Leave Nothing But Footprints, Take Nothing But Pictures
When the trip is done and you have to pack everything up, make sure that you bring your trash with you — even if it’s as small as a candy wrapper. Keep the trail and campsite as clean as you possibly can to maintain the natural condition of the area.
While taking all the things you brought with you, you might also be tempted to take a souvenir in the form of a flower or rock from the campsite or along the trail. However, it’s best to leave every natural thing where they were when you arrived.
Taking even what seems to be an insignificant piece of nature might disturb the area’s natural habitat and ecosystem. Consider taking lots of pictures and videos instead. That way, you can relive the memory of being one with nature and remember how you did your duty of caring for it in the process.
Article by Kat Sarmiento