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Principle 2: Travel on Durable Surfaces/Maintained Trails

Using the trails around Vail offers some of the most spectacular views and mountain experiences you will ever encounter and we encourage you to get out there and make the most of this vacation adventure.  While out in Mother Nature, remember that the goal of any outdoor travel or activity is to move through natural areas while avoiding damage to the surroundings, including the land and waterways. Understanding how travel causes impacts is necessary to accomplish this goal.

Outdoor or environmental travel damage occurs when surface vegetation or communities of organisms are trampled beyond recovery. The resulting barren area leads to soil erosion and the development of undesirable trails. Backcountry travel may involve travel over both trails and off-trail areas.

Land management agencies construct trails to provide identifiable routes that concentrate foot and stock traffic. Constructed trails are themselves an impact on the land; however, they are a necessary response to the fact that people travel through natural areas.  Concentrating travel on trails reduces the likelihood that multiple routes will develop and scar the landscape. It is better to have one well-designed route than many poorly chosen paths. Trail use is recommended whenever possible.

Tips for Traveling on Durable Surfaces

  • Travelers (hiking, biking or equestrian) should stay within the width of the trail and not shortcut trail switchbacks (trail zigzags that climb hillsides). Avoid making your own trail or bush-waking off trail.
  • Travelers should provide space for other hikers/bikers to get by if taking breaks along the trail, without going too far off-trail.
  • Hikers in the same group should periodically stop to rest and talk.
  • Avoid shouting to communicate while hiking. Loud noises usually are not welcome in natural areas.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: