About Us

As avid hikers and backpackers, we are strong supporters of Leave No Trace principles. However, personal experience and recent articles (check out the links below) have caused us to become increasingly concerned about the negative impacts that the publicity afforded by social media brings to some of our beloved — and vulnerable — natural places. The ability to enjoy nature unspoiled by inconsiderate crowds, trash, and misuse should belong to all lovers of outdoor recreation.
Currently, there are 7 principles laid out by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics that address ethical behavior in the outdoors. We are proposing the addition of an 8th principle to address the impacts that can occur when places that are particularly vulnerable “go viral” as a result of social media sharing.
Examples of a possible 8th principle are:

“Be mindful when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts that rapidly increased use can have on wild places”

“Use discretion when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts of creating a ‘buzz’ about specific destinations”

We have created this page as a conversation starter. A way to let Leave No Trace know that we are keen to see this discussed with greater urgency before more wild places are “loved to death”. We encourage people who recreate in the outdoors to reflect on the potential impacts their social media posts might have on the wild places we all love.
We are not elitists. We are not secret keepers. We simply love natural places and want to see them responsibly enjoyed and responsibly shared.
If this resonates with you, please consider downloading the letter and sending it to Leave No Trace. It is with no small sense of irony that we ask you to share this page and message with your friends and fellow hikers.
Thank you!

Update: Leave No Trace released social media guidelines, many thanks to LNT for recognizing this issue and taking this step: https://lnt.org/blog/new-social-media-guidance

For an in-depth discussion of the 8th Leave No Trace Principle, check out this episode of the Cascade Hiker Podcast:

“Is geotagging on Instagram ruining natural wonders? Some say yes”

“Leave No Trace: How the Rise of Outdoor Influencers is Affecting the Environment”

“Keeping Wild Places Wild: The Ethics of Social Media”
“Trying to Protect California Redwoods from Too Much Love”

“Instagram Is Loving Nature To Death”

“Instagram Crowds May Be Ruining Nature”

“Are We Loving Colorado’s Wild Places to Death?”

“On Instagram’s Impact on Wilderness, and True Adventure Photographers”

“Protecting Wilderness in the Social Media Age”

“Is Instagram Ruining the Great Outdoors?”

“A Local Gem in Danger”

“Guffey Gorge is Instagram Famous”

“Is Social Media Ruining Lake Tahoe’s Wilderness?”
“Loved to Death: How Instagram Is Destroying Our Natural Wonders”
“A Tranquil Swimming Hole Is Overwhelmed by Its Own Internet Fame”
“Does Social Media Impact the Trails We Love?”
“Is Social Media Spoiling Colorado’s Hanging Lake?”
“How social media hurts and helps the great outdoors”
“Too much love for the Columbia River Gorge”


16 thoughts on “About Us”

  1. Ultimately, it’s great that people are getting outside and that there is more information than ever to motivate and help plan a trip to the outdoors. Sharing these beautiful moments outside on social media really does spread this joy to others.

    I also think part of the magic of wilderness areas is the intrigue from discovery and the adventure to get there. When a place is regulated because of overuse -with trash, humans, and cars pointing the way you miss the magic of the wild.

    There is a waterfall near Nashvillle (Cummings Falls) that has had a similar life cycle as the one in this article: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/nyregion/blue-hole-swimming-catskills.html?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F

    I’m not sure what the happy medium is. Maybe just more respect for natural areas. Instead of treating them like a public party park, having reverence about what unnatural things you are bringing to an area (drones, food, coolers, radios, etc.) Expanding the whole leave no trace philosophy to bring no trace?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Overuse has always been an issue. See Yellowstone/Yosemite/Glacier/Zion/etc. The solution isn’t some weird code of silence. It’s increased management, more rangers, more permits, more regulation, and more enforcement. This requires public funds. Don’t blame instagram or its users. Blame Zinke and Perdue and Republicans who want to gut the LWCF.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a lot that can be done before we get to the point of permits, regulation and enforcement. Much of the impact I have seen is from lack of understanding and knowledge. Taking a proactive stance with our natural places is what Leave No Trace is all about. Once people are faced with enforcement and regulation they will probably get upset and close themselves off to the idea changing what is actually causing the problem. That podcast link from above is a great listen. http://northcascadehiker.com/cascade-hiker-podcast/084


  3. Obviously, places like Yosemite and Yellowstone are staggering under the burden of their popularity. On the other hand, I rarely saw anyone outside our party during my several trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
    ____Perhaps____ the thing to do is to institute mandatory shuttles and/or permit-lotteries for the most overused places at the highest-use times.
    (I said, “___perhaps___.”)
    I predict we will find no easy answers.


  4. I think its great your doing this. I emailed LNT a while back about adding this and never heard from them, so Im assuming its not a priority for them. I think it should be.


  5. I think Steve said it best above…
    “Overuse has always been an issue. See Yellowstone/Yosemite/Glacier/Zion/etc. The solution isn’t some weird code of silence. It’s increased management, more rangers, more permits, more regulation, and more enforcement. This requires public funds. Don’t blame Instagram or its users. Blame Zinke and Perdue and Republicans who want to gut the LWCF.”

    I would also add, I believe the first 7 principles, collectively cover the intent of the 8th principle and adding it would simply be redundant. I’m all for protecting public lands, public access, and the ecosystem of these amazing places. Putting a stop to social media posts (in effect, censoring society) isn’t the answer. Education and establishing clear consequences for misuse/destruction would be far more effective.


    1. I don’t think that posting on social media thoughtfully is at all covered in the 7 principles. I’ve felt hesitant to share location and when asked have felt uncomfortable but not sharing or refusing to answer can be perceived as elitist. I think an 8th principle gives permission to be more circumspect, and like the rest of the principles, is not a rule but a value to consider. I like putting it out there for all to consider. And it is not a code of silence–it is allowing others to find places on their own, it is making those who really want to go do a bit of homework, and hopefully they will value these places more by working a bit to find them. And it is not impossible to find them… Just because we don’t post tags on Instagram of Facebook, one can do more research and find the info on other websites that do give directions–it is just that these websites take a bit (tiny bit) more research which means more desire. Or better–buy guide books…. You can give me general information and I can go and make my own adventure. I might not get to the exact canyon where you were, but I will still enjoy my own explorations and appreciate them more. It is a tightrope we balance: We want all to enjoy/visit and in the end love these wild places enough to protect them, but we don’t want them over-run and destroyed so that visitors feel they are in disneyland and don’t care about protecting them–that defeats much of our purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I couldn’t agree more with you, Julianne. What you wrote is EXACTLY the type of idea that myself and the others behind this 8th LNT Principle were wanting others to consider. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it — it made me really happy to see this. Happy hiking in 2018!


  6. I am not sure social media is the real target. Hollywood could be, regarding the Wild movie. Send this link to Reese (PCT) and Robert (AT). I may sign, but I learned about TA and CDT via social media … We are just too many and I count for one. Heard about so many fires this summer (US & EU), we also have too many 4WD’s, cooled and lighted houses all day long.


  7. As stated, there are no easy solutions… if there were, it would be solved already. A big issue that seems to be the elephant in the room is over-population. It seems that noone can talk about this without offending someone…. anyway, I cannot solve over-population by myself except by not reproducing–I can’t control everyone, nor can I change the ‘growth at all costs’ of our society/economy/government. But, over-population aside, I do think there is a place for an 8th LNT principle. I am an LNT Master Educator, an instructor/guide in Yellowstone, and am NOLS trained (years ago… before LNT was really out there). I also am part of a blog: http://www.writingthewild.com And, I travel to public lands. Last fall, we discovered a national monument that we loved–it was empty in late October, the campsites superb and the hiking grand. I really did not want to post the name of it on social media…. yet there was pressure (nice pressure, but still, pressure)… My gut said ‘be cautious’, but friends said ‘hey, tell us!’… Having an 8th LNT principle would allow us all to be more circumspect in our postings and have it accepted by others as the right thing to do. You have given me food for thought… and my next post. Thank you.


    1. Thanks for posting here and for approaching this idea with such an open mind, Kevin! I enjoyed reading your blog post and will try to comment over there after reading it again and reflecting on it some.

      To be honest, as long as you are thinking about the impact social media has on the wild places you love and making decisions based on that, then I think you’re following the principle. Different people will approach this differently and two reasonable people might come to different conclusions about how many details to post — nothing wrong with that, all we want to see is people thinking about the potential impacts before they post, which you seem to be doing.

      Thanks again!


    2. Kevin, I tried to comment on your blog but for some reason was unable to do so — technical difficulties/technical ignorance, on my part I’m guessing.

      I did re-read your blog post and I really think that as long as you are thinking about your impact — physically and digitally — that you are doing a good thing. Thanks for being open to the idea and thinking about this topic.


  8. I hate “adding” to the already burdened educational system. But perhaps “outdoor” education needs to come back, as well as simple things like “growing a garden” in the primary grades. Learning to “live lightly” and not to leave traces begins with those first “look-out” experiences. It is not something that you add-on for adults (although you can try) it is something to have to raise a child to know and enjoy. No “screen time,” live in the real world.


  9. I would never make it about silence, but more active “Be mindful how you talk about wilderness”. Communicating should be active stewardship. And you know the 7 hand signs? No 8 is four fingers from each hand, on either side of the mouth, like you are whispering to someone.


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