Find Yourself on the Trail, But Be Careful About Blazing New Ones
by Amanda Foster, Owner, The Hike Shack
- Trails are created to minimize impact; they keep us from damaging ecosystems and allow us to safely explore the wild.
- There are places where it is a crime to even cut a switchback trail. Trails are there for a reason and creating a new trail to avoid them is not helpful. You can even be fined for creating your own trail, and places can be closed if the rules and regulations of trail use are not followed.
- Off-trail hiking is not always looked upon very kindly. There are places where it is acceptable. You just need to consider where you are and the impact you are making.
- Always practice leave-no-trace whether you are on or off a trail. If the area is muddy and you would leave deep footprints of any kind, rethink your plan. Check with the local authority in the area for rules on leaving the trail before you go.
- If you do decide to leave the trail, make sure you are a capable navigator. Bring your compass and a map, not just your phone.