Going out on a hike can be exhilarating with fun-filled moments, unique sights and loads of excitement.
However, before heading outdoors, it's important to understand the value of an eco-friendly hike. Too many people spend time hiking while leaving a mess behind and that's never a good thing!
Here are ten important tips anyone can follow for a "green" hike.
1) Stay Closer to Home
The first thing you should look into is the location of your hike. The average person drives miles (sometimes to other states) in a bid to visit specific trails when that's unnecessary. Instead, why not focus on local parks? This can be a tremendous way to save on travelling while saving the planet too.
By travelling further, you are going to be using various resources that could have been saved. Plus, emissions from your vehicle/bus/plane/train will add to the issue and make it ten times worse!
Keep things as simple as possible and enjoy yourself at a local park.
2) Use Containers and Reusable Bottles
Leave wrappers and plastics at home before heading out for a hike. Yes, it might seem easy to grab a bag of snacks or a plastic water bottle, but these items can do a significant amount of damage to the planet. In general, it's smarter to bring something that can be carried with you in a backpack once it's been used. For example, a simple reusable water bottle works well and is easy to put away throughout the hike. The same applies to any food that's being consumed.
If you are going to be taking wrappers with you, please make sure to keep them in your bag before disposing them at home. Never toss your wrappers/plastic bottles near the trail!
3) Don't Feed the Animals
This is a common mistake made by hikers and is something you should be looking to avoid. In general, you may see a squirrel or bird that is sitting nearby and assume it's time to take out a piece of bread or your bag of peanuts. However, this is a horrible thing to do as it makes those animals reliant on hand feeding.
Over time, this has a profound impact because these trails are visited by thousands of people every single week.
4) Avoid Starting Fires
Fires take up a lot of resources and can damage the area. You want to avoid working up a fire by going in the afternoon and not spending time outdoors when the temperature drops.
For those who have to build a fire, make sure to keep it as small as possible. A contained fire is easier on the planet and isn't going to lead to excessive damage.
5) Follow Designated Paths
Venturing off into the middle of a forest may seem like a good decision but it's often reckless and environmentally unsafe. Designated paths are set up for a reason and should be followed by hikers. By heading out into the middle of nowhere, there is an increased risk of damaging wildlife and/or vegetation in the area.
Be smart and follow the trails because this will ensure everything works out in your favour.
Otherwise, not only are you going to end up damaging the area, but you will also have to deal with random surprises along the way. For a green hike, you want to follow a simple rule and avoid surprises.
6) Use Pre-Determined Campsites
For those looking to spend time at the park, it's best to head over to one of the established campsites. Don't sit down in an unprotected area as this can lead to significant damages to the planet and is simply in bad taste. The pre-determined campsites are there for a reason and should be used as directed.
This is especially true for those looking to start up small fires at the park. You don't want to do this away from the campsite as it can lead to uncontrolled wildfires.
7) Eat After the Hike
A good rule to follow involves eating after the hike is finished. This way, you don't have to carry anything on your person (minus a water bottle) and you can eat to your heart's content. Of course, this is difficult for those spending an entire day at the park, but a green hike needs to incorporate external restaurants.
This is the safest way to go on an eco-friendly hike.
8) Don't Use Nearby Water Sources
In many cases, you are going to come across small streams or ponds with natural water. This is seen in various parts of the world and may be true in your area too. As a result, it's important to avoid using this water as it disrupts the natural environment. If water is to be used, it's best to utilise what's in your possession.
9) Don't Take Anything From Your Hike
Going on a hike is a wonderful decision but it doesn't give you the right to take things from the environment. For example, don't go around plucking leaves or flowers in a bid to take them home. This may seem like an innocent decision but it can have a profound impact as more and more hikers do it.
By simply taking nothing along the way except pictures, you'll have a great time and remain eco-friendly too.
10) Clean After Yourself
Let's assume you are sitting somewhere along the trail and are having a good time. When it's time to go, you will want to clean up properly. Never leave a mess behind because this is the number one reason hikers damage the planet. They leave quite the mess whether it's wrappers, plastics, or even regular items that are simply tossed aside.
Don't let this happen and always clean after yourself. This is the bare minimum for a green hike.
With these tips, you'll be able to have the time of your life without damaging the planet. Remember, the beauty of being outdoors is only possible when you're willing to respect it.
By following this advice, you'll be well on your way to an eco-friendly hike.