The Lightest Step -
Leave No Trace Beach Walking


Who would have ever guessed that such a simple pleasure as strolling a beach could be done in a manner consistent with Leave No Trace and low impact philosophies?? Well fellow outdoor lovers... it's easy to leave only the absolute lightest of footprints by "stealth hiking" along wild stretches of shoreline.

Ok, right now some of you are probably saying but Chris... you just stay on the sand right? Isn't sand a durable surface to travel on when hiking? Well yes indeed, a sandy beach is a durable surface. But let's think deep for a minute. For me an undeveloped stretch of beach is a precious resource to preserve and protect. An even more precious resource to me is finding solitude in nature in areas unspoiled by man. Anyone starting to see how footprints can damage the resource of a "virgin" beach? Ever wanted at least the feeling that you were the only person to hike a stretch of beach in a while??

Reduce beach footprints by walking below the high water mark

Reduce beach footprints by walking below the high water mark

Now I'm not saying to never ever walk upon a beach...
I'm just saying that it's not hard to limit the impact we have as far as footprints

Am I too strict?? Maybe, but I prefer the term passionate. Anyways... footprints on a beach when you are tying to escape the jungle of city life contribute to a crowded feeling. The worst part is that there can be nobody around for miles yet the footprints can remain for days until either the wind slowly moves the sand around or it rains or large waves jump further ashore.

Lowest Impact Zone

Where footprints are quickly washed away by wave action. I have waterproof boots and I hike on the wet sand here. Barefoot is fun too!

Low Impact Zone

Footprints may take a few hours to disappear here as only the biggest waves of the day will splash up here.
This will vary greatly depending on whether it is an ocean coastline, or whether it is a big or small freshwater lake.

Footprint Impact Zone

Obviously where all those footprints accumulate. The less we hike on this part of the beach the more we preserve its wildness. That's why we hiked there in the first place right? My original photos could have made good desktop pictures if it wasn't for all those footprints!

Here's another photo... less room to walk here because of the sand structure but that's what waterproof boots are for. Dancing with the waves is fun!

hike below the high water mark to lessen the impact of footprints on the beach

Hopefully this info will help you keep the beach nude.... I mean free of footprints. Remember your actions positive or negative impact others enjoying the outdoors. Unspoiled beaches are a precious and limited resource. Take care of them!

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