Due to COVID-19, people all across Pennsylvania are taking to trails to enjoy the respite that nature offers. However, while we need the respite of nature during these trying times, nature also needs us to protect it. Adhering to leave no trace principles is one of the ways in which we can reduce our impact upon our trails and open spaces. Below are leave no trace guidelines that you can follow next time you hit the trail.

Avoid Crowds
Avoid crowded trailheads and parking lots. Research the park beforehand and visit outside high times of use. If you see a full parking lot at a park or preserve, find another parking lot or another park or preserve altogether. Do not make parking spaces by parking in the grass or alongside roadways, as it damages the landscape.

Dispose of Waste
Whatever you bring must be brought out! Take all trash with you and dispose of it properly. Remember to also clean up after all pets. Due to COVID-19, many open spaces are functioning on reduced staff, so trash cans fill up quickly. Remember that many facilities at this time are closed, so make sure that you use the restroom at home before heading out.

Be Considerate of Others
Be respectful and courteous to others while on the trail. Control pets by keeping them on a leash and keep noise to a minimum. During this era of COVID-19, remember to keep a social distance of six feet between you and the next person on the trail. If you’re feeling ill, stay home.

Respect Wildlife
Leave the “wild” in “wildlife”! Do not approach wildlife, but observe them from afar. Remember to secure food and keep food scraps away from animals. If you are walking or hiking with your pets, keep them on a leash and do not allow them to chase or disturb wildlife.

Leave What You Find
Keep wild spaces wild! Do not pull, dig, or otherwise disturb natural objects and areas. Always remember to look, but not touch.