Leaving No Trace

A hiker at Gambrill State Park

Recreation always disturbs natural conditions. From soil erosion caused by heavily used trails to vegetation losses at backcountry campsites, the ongoing challenge facing DNR resource managers is how to provide recreation opportunities while protecting the aesthetic and ecological functions of natural areas from overuse.

One of the most important means of minimizing these impacts is by educating visitors on Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics. Please be sure that you are skilled in employing these techniques and educating your traveling companions on their importance to protecting the environment. By doing so, we can ensure that visitors will continue to enjoy areas maintained in a healthy, natural state.

Adventure-based recreation continues to be the leading trend, both regionally and nationally, in outdoor recreation. Check out our self-guided recreational opportunities available on Maryland's public lands for the novice to experienced enthusiast, as well as the family with young children.

Below are a few examples of LNT ethics that you can employ while visiting Maryland's public lands.
Younger visitors can check out the Leave No Trace website for kids.

  • Minimize activity to approximately 12 participants to reduce potential adverse impacts of larger groups. Make sure everyone in your group picks up litter and leaves the area cleaner that you found it.
  • If possible, select a site for the activity that is under-visited and managed properly. Consult the Department of Natural Resources land manager to avoid sensitive areas or seasons that cannot sustain visitor use.
  • Travel single file on trails to avoid widening the trail or making new ones. Do not "pioneer" new campsites in areas where use is restricted to designated sites. Concentrating use -- except in very lightly used, pristine areas -- is necessary to minimize vegetation loss and soil compaction and erosion.
  • Dispose of human waste properly. Use the cathole method. Check with the Department of Natural Resources land manager on available facilities or any restrictions on human waste disposal. Some highly sensitive areas along waterways require that all human waste be packed out. Please be sure you have the equipment and skills necessary to comply with these protections to the environment.
  • Report trail damage or other environmental impacts that may need corrective management attention to the responsible Department of Natural Resources land manager. Volunteer for trail stewardship management projects. Help keep your natural resources attractive, healthy and available for future use.

A complete guide to Leave No Trace -- Outdoor Skills and Ethics: Leave No Trace logo

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

 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.

Online Services

Contact the Park Service

  • To Report Violations of Park Rules: 1-800-825-7275 (Park Watch) or 1-410-260-8888 (Communications Center)
  • General Information: 1-800-830-3974 (Annapolis Office)
  • Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
  • Email Us
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