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'Tis the time to reaffirm commitment to responsible outdoor activities 

Now that spring has arrived, warmer weather and longer days means many of us will be out hiking, cycling and backpacking into the great outdoors.  This is a good time to go over good outdoor recreation etiquette and behavior.

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace ( https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/) minimize our impact on the land:
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack-it-in-Pack-it-out)
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Affects
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Speaking of being considerate to other. here are a few words about trail etiquette. https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/trail-etiquette-a-how-to/Content?oid=5235217).  Simply put:
  • Hikers going up hill have the right-of-way over hikers going down hill.
  • Cyclists always yield the right-of-way to hikers, regardless of whether going up- or downhill.  Many thanks to the increasing number of cyclists that I see yielding to hikers! That said, it is courteous for downhill hikers to give an uphill cyclist a break  if you can and let them continue up and not lose their momentum.
  • EVERYONE yields to horses. No exceptions. Step off the trail. Don't reach out to touch a horse, don't make sudden noises or movements, and keep your dog tightly near you. Most importantly, communicate with the equestrian, and let them tell you what they'd like you to do.
El Paso County Parks created this video that further explains good trail etiquette.


If you're going to be taking photos on your hikes (and who doesn't?), be cognizant of "over-sharing".  As social media use grows exponentially, increasing numbers of people easily discover places to shoot - places that used to take hours of research to locate. As a result, many iconic places have become overrun with people who choose to not act responsibly, or who may not understand the sensitive nature of the location. The recent debacle in California's Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve during the "superbloom"  (
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxUrr-CIgkA) is indicative of the ugly results of over-sharing and irresponsible use.  While no one is asking people to stop taking pictures, or even to stop sharing their photos, some tourist spots, such as Jackson Hole (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FIsg6p0w5s ) are imploring people to be responsible, and the Center for Outdoor Ethics has issued guidance for social media users (https://lnt.org/new-social-media-guidance/). 

click to enlarge Nature First Logo
  • Nature First Logo
A new initiative, called "Nature First" (https://www.naturefirstphotography.org/principles), is aimed at guiding nature and landscape photographers in responsible behavior, and how to be an example of good behavior and ethics to not only other photographers, but also to the general public.  "We all just need to take better care of our land, not cultivate the negative behavior", said Jennifer Renwick, a photographer and one of the co-founders of Nature First.  "It's important for photographers to realize what kind of impact we're having", said Renwick. The message of Nature First is for photographers to "lead by example" said David Kingham, also a photographer and co-founder of the initiative.

The goal of engaging in outdoor recreation is not only to enjoy the outdoors, but also to share it with others, and to preserve and protect the outdoors we all love so much. Do your part, Leave No Trace. Act responsibly. And, HAVE FUN.

Be good. Do good things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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