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Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Generally speaking, when you're hiking, stay on the trail, especially above treeline, where vegetation can withstand harsh weather but can be easily damaged by trampling. If you must leave the trail in the alpine areas, "rock hop" to avoid damaging plants. Yes, you might think that your impact is small - but on a mountain with thousands of visitors each year, small impacts add up fast!

Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.

Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes, streams and springs.

Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary - minimize your impact! Plan your day so that you have enough time to find a suitable site - if you wait until darkness is approaching, you may be tempted to use a site that does not meet low impact guidelines.

In popular areas (such as the Hermit Lake Shelter Area in Tuckerman Ravine):

Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites (indeed, at Hermit Lake area you may camp only at the established sites).

Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.

Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.

In pristine areas (such as off-trail camping, where allowed):

Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails. Camp at least 200 feet from any trail, to discourage re-use of the site and thus to allow it to recover from your use. When you break camp, be sure you leave no trace of your presence there.

Avoid places where impacts are just beginning. Don't be tempted to use such places because it is easier than getting off the trail. That's how trailside eyesores get established!

When you take a break or breather, sit or stand on rocks or other durable surfaces out of the way of passing hikers - please don't lounge on trailside flowers or other vegetation.

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