How to “Leave No Trace” in the Mountains

Oct 20, 2020

You may have heard the saying “Leave No Trace,” but do you know what it means?

Leave No Trace is a core set of principals defined by The Leave No Trace Foundation. The national program sets the standard outdoors “rules” and is an educational program that is designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they are enjoying the great outdoors, including Mammoth Lakes and the High Sierra.

7 Core Principles of Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace focuses on seven core principles to protect wild spaces and recreate responsibly on public lands.

  • 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

Learn more about how you can practice each of these core principles at the Leave No Trace Foundation website.

Mammoth Lakes-Specific Leave No Trace Principles

The Inyo National Forest Service also has a set of guidelines on how to minimize human impact on the unique high alpine environment in the Eastern Sierra.

The following acts are prohibited:

  • Camping within 100 feet of lakes, streams or trails
  • Possessing storing food, toiletries or refuse in a manner that allows bears or animals to access it
  • Washing or discharging soap waste within 100 feet of lakes or streams
  • Depositing bodily waste within 100 feet of lakes, streams, campsites, or trails
  • Leaving any debris, garbage, or refuse within the wilderness
  • Entering or using the wilderness in a group larger than 15 persons or with more than 25 head of pack or saddle stock
  • Storing or leaving unattended equipment, personal property or supplies for more than 24 hours
  • Hitching, tethering or tying pack or saddle stock within 100 feet for lakes, streams, trails, or campsites except while loading or unloading
  • Camping overnight in the wilderness without a valid wilderness permit
  • Discharge a firearm except for emergencies and the taking of game as permitted by California State law
  • Possessing or using any wheeled or mechanical device except for persons requiring wheelchairs
  • Shortcutting a switchback on any forest trail


Getting More Involved in Protecting Mammoth Lakes

Ultimately enjoying the wilderness, respecting the environment and acting as a steward of the land to protect natural resources for generations to come is the responsibility of each person who visits Mammoth Lakes.

If you want to become even more involved in the stewardship effort in Mammoth Lakes, there are a number of local organizations that provide volunteer opportunities. Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access (MLTPA), Friends of the Inyo, the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the Inyo National Forest sponsor trail clean-ups and other stewardship outings throughout the summers.

Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine, and travel writer who would rather be running, climbing, or mountain biking. See more of Monica's posts here, read more of her work at and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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