Before You Go

Leave No Trace

The best way to enjoy nature is to allow it to take its own course, without disturbing any part of the ecosystem. A good way to remember your role in the forest is to “take only photos, leave only footprints.”

Additionally, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has outlined the following principles for kids in nature:

  • Choose The Right Path
  • Trash Your Trash
  • Leave What You Find
  • Be Careful With Fire
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Kind To Other Visitors

While discovering the forest, avoid picking or disrupting any plants or animals in order to help conserve them. Wildflowers, for example, are very fragile and will wilt almost immediately after being picked. Millions of people visit public lands each year, so if only a portion of the total visitors pick a couple flowers each, there would soon be barely any for the rest of us to enjoy. Photographs of these beauties will always last longer. To find out more about wildflowers, visit the US Forest Service’s dedicated wildflower page at

Tread Lightly, a program created by the Forest Service in 1985, has set out to balance the needs of people who enjoy outdoor recreation with the need to conserve the environment. For fun stories for kids, go to the special Tread Lightly kid’s page: For more tips on how to lessen your environmental impact while taking on more elaborate outdoor activities, go to

More Tips... Before You Go.