If you’re anything like me, your Instagram is FULL of amazing views and stunning landscapes. When content about such beautiful places (and the exact location of those places) are so readily available, it’s easy to get jealous. Maybe it’s just me, but the only “FOMO” I’ve ever experienced is wishing I could see that one glacier or hidden waterfall myself. 

But when places like this go viral online, bad things happen. I’m all for people visiting these views (it’s what I live for after all), but it’s more important now than ever to do so responsibly. We want these places to stay beautiful for generations to come, but even more than that, we need to be safe. 

In 2020 a local hidden swimming hole about an hour’s drive from where I was living at the time went viral on TikTok. That summer 3 people died by drowning in the dangerous waters or slipping on rocks, and many more were endangered trying to cross the highway to get to the trending spot. There’s no view that’s worth dying over, so I want to share a few precautions and principles you should take when adventuring.

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

The concept of Leave No Trace has been around for decades, but these seven principles were outlined in 1994 to help upkeep National Parks and all other outdoor spaces when visitors flock to these beautiful spaces. 

Plan Ahead and Prepare

I’m all for adventure, but let’s make sure we’re being safe. Spontaneity is great when you’re prepared. Always know the trails you are traveling and prepare for all possible weather conditions. More on that with the 10 Essentials below.

Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

There’s a reason trails exist. It’s so we can safely experience nature without damaging it. Wandering off-trail erodes the landscape and damages wildlife. Stick to the marked trails and camp on durable surface where possible.

Dispose of Waste Properly

This one is the easiest thing to do, but sadly one that I see ignored the most. If you bring something on a hike or walk into an outdoor space, be prepared to pack it out. Yes, that includes dog waste, biodegradable food (an orange peel can take up to two years to fully decompose) and any plastic wrapping from water bottles or snacks. 

Leave What You Find

“Leave nothing but footsteps, take nothing but memories.” Everything is there for a reason. If you find a cool rock or flower or whatever, I promise it’s not worth taking so it can sit on your shelf. Take a photo instead.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires are personally my favorite part of camping. You can still enjoy them responsibly (in areas where there are no burn bans - let’s not encourage more forest fires) by building them in previous sites and using local wood.  

Respect Wildlife

This is personally my biggest pet peeve. Do. Not. Feed. The. Birds. This goes for all animals, but seriously just don’t do it. Aside from becoming aggressive and making it impossible for anyone to enjoy the nature, it’s also bad for them to rely on humans for food instead of their natural sources. Come the off-season when there’s not as many people around, they struggle to survive.  

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

No speakers. Let people pass. Uphill hikers have the right of way. Respect dog-rules and permit systems. Everyone is out there to enjoy the space, so let them.  

The 10 Essentials

Safety should always be top priority when traveling into the backcountry. Being prepared gives you the peace of mind to explore more easily. 


Have two ways to tell where you are, especially if you’ve never been there before. Apps like AllTrails and Gaia are only useful when your phone is charged, so always have a physical backup in case of emergency.


If you get stuck, the last thing you want is to be trapped in the dark. Bring a headlamp or flashlight and make sure you have extra batteries. A dead flashlight is no good in an emergency.

Sun Protection

Exposure can dehydrate you more quickly. Protect your skin.

First Aid

A few basic first aid supplies can make a huge difference on the trail, not just for emergencies. I swear by Moleskin for preventing and treating blisters.


Bring a knife and a repair kit. Doesn’t have to be huge, but some duct tape can make a big difference.


Have some way to make fire, matches or a lighter.


You don’t need to pack a tent on every day-hike, but an emergency blanket is a must.


Make sure you have enough fuel for your hike plus a little extra just in case.


A good rule of thumb is one liter for every two miles. That gets heavy quickly, so learn how to use and bring a water filter if there will be water sources in the area.


I’ve never been mad at myself for bringing an extra pair of socks or an extra layer that I wasn’t sure if I’d use. Better safe than sorry. 

I know it sounds like a lot of stuff, but it’s really not. I carry all of these on my solo hikes, but if you’re hiking with someone else you can split it up between your two packs (as long as you never split up). 

Believe me, I know from personal experience that you are much better off being over-prepared and feeling a little paranoid or embarrassed than dealing with the consequences of not having enough water. All of these things help us upkeep these protected areas for others to enjoy in the future as well.