Credit Photo Courtesy of:
Jon Glassberg


Taking the road less traveled may be good advice in life, but it can lead to serious impacts in the outdoors.

Trail crews put in a lot of time and effort to make arduous ascents more sustainable. Cutting switchbacks or bushwhacking in an effort to shave a few feet off of your hike leads to erosion and instability in the slope. Going off trail can also damage fragile plants and soils that can take decades to regenerate—this is especially true in desert and alpine environments.

Essential Skills

  • Stay on Trail! Established trails are laid out thoughtfully to provide sustainable routes. Going off trail damages the environment.
  • In areas where trails don’t exist, stick to durable surfaces whenever possible to spare fragile plant life. Take the same trail out that you took in to minimize your impact.
  • In desert environments that lack designated trails, travel in washes to avoid fragile cryptobiotic soil.
  • On muddy trails, stay the course. Walking around the mud widens the trail and increases the impact.
  • Volunteer for an Adopt a Crag event and help maintain trails in your area.

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Resource Center

Paige Claassen Cuts Trails

Stay on established trails whenever possible and avoid trail cutting and social trails.

Organizing an Adopt a Crag

The basics for organizing an Adopt a Crag volunteer stewardship event.

Making the Transition from Gym to Crag

When transitioning from climbing indoors to outdoors, be prepared to venture outside by gaining awareness and skills to minimize your impact.

Anatomy of a Responsible Climber

Anatomy of a Responsible Climbing Infographic