Leaving No Trace
Outdoor Ethics For Kids

Children canoeing at Elk Neck State Park

Before you visit a Maryland state park or forest, learn these simple tips to make your visit enjoyable and safe. Remember, all Maryland State Parks are trash free!

Here are a few examples of "Leave No Trace" ethics that you can use while visiting Maryland's public lands. Leave No Trace is a national program that promotes responsible outdoor recreation. Remember - you'll enjoy nature even more by caring for your special place:

  • Know Before You Go -- Be prepared! Don't forget clothes to protect you from cold, heat or rain. Use maps to show you where you'll be going and so you won't get lost. Learn about the areas you visit. Read books and talk to people before you go. The more you know, the more fun you'll have.

  • Choose the Right Path -- Use existing camp areas and walk on the main trail to protect nature. Keep natural areas looking natural. Steer clear of flowers or small trees. Once hurt, they may not grow back. Camp at least 100 big steps from roads, trails and water.

  • Trash Your Trash -- Pack it in, pack it out. Put litter in trash bags and carry it home. Use bathrooms or outhouses when available. If you have to "go," act like a cat and bury poop in a small hole 4-8 inches deep and 100 big steps from water sources. Place your toilet paper in a plastic bag and put the bag in a garbage can back home. Keep water clean. Don't put soap, food, or poop in lakes or streams.

  • Leave What You Find -- Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so the next person can enjoy them. Good campsites are found, not made. Don't dig trenches or build tables and chairs in your campsite.

  • Be Careful With Fire -- Use a gas-fueled camp stove for cooking. It's easier to cook on and clean up than a fire. It it's ok to build a campfire in the area you're visiting, use an existing fire ring to protect the ground from heat. Don't snap branches off live, dead or downed trees. Instead, collect loose sticks from the ground. Burn the wood all the way to white ash and be sure that the fire is completely out and cold before you leave.

  • Respect Wildlife -- Watch wildlife from a distance and never approach, feed or follow them. Human food is unhealthy for all animals and feeding them starts bad habits. Protect wildlife and your food by storing your meals and trash tightly. Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.

  • Be Kind To Other Visitors -- >Make sure the fun you have in the outdoors does not bother anyone else. Remember that other visitors are there to enjoy nature. Listen to nature. Avoid making loud noises or yelling. If you meet horses on the trail, step downhill, and speak softly until they pass.

Leave No Trace logo

A complete guide to Leave No Trace - Outdoor Skills and Ethics is available from Leave No Trace, a national program that promotes responsible outdoor recreation.

Leave No Trace curriculum and wilderness skills training courses are taught through a partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School. Visit the Leave No Trace website at www.lnt.org or contact them for additional information at 1-800-332-4100.

Contact the Park Service

  • Toll Free: 1-800-830-3974
    (Annapolis Office)
  • Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
  • Park Watch: 1-800-825-7275
  • Email Us

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If you prefer, you can use a map to locate one of our parks.

Our Mission

The mission of the Maryland Park Service is to manage the natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources to provide the best use for the benefit of people.