Protect the places you love. Leave No Trace

What is Leave No Trace?

Leave No Trace is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands. The Austin Parks and Recreation DepartmentAustin Resource Recovery, and Watershed Protection have partnered to raise awareness about Leave No Trace in Austin.

As Austin's population continues to soar, each of us can help ensure that our city's parks, trails, and open spaces are protected and enjoyed for generations to come by practicing Leave No Trace.


The Leave No Trace Seven Principles

You can practice Leave No Trace by following the Seven Principles each time you head outdoors. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. 

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns, or flagging.

2. Travel on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • In popular areas:
    • Concentrate use on existing trails.
    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Pack out all trash, pet waste, and leftover food.
  • Bring bags for pet waste, Scoop the Poop, and dispose of bags in designated areas.

4. Leave What You Find

  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
Be careful with fire.

5. Be Careful with Fire

  • Check the burn ban status in City of Austin Parks before heading out for a BBQ.
  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a lantern for light.
  • Use grills in designated areas.
  • Campfires are only allowed at Emma Long Metropolitan Park and these must be attended at all times by an adult until fully extinguished.
    • Before leaving the site, make sure the fire is fully extinguished
    • Keep a source of water nearby
    • Never leave a fire unattended

6. Respect Wildlife

Give them space

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Keep pets under control

  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
    • Leashes are important both for the protection of both wildlife and your pet.
    • Use leashes that are 4-6 ft. in length and do not let dogs explore out of sight, including in vegetation.
  • Coyotes, hawks, snakes, and feral hogs may be present in the preserve and could pose a hazard to off leash dogs.
    • What to do if you see a coyote:
      • Face the animal
      • Be big: wave your arms, open a coat
      • Be loud: shout, carry a noisemaker
      • Throw sticks or rocks in its direction

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.


Help Spread the Word

Here are just a few ways that you can help spread the word about Leave No Trace:

1. Practice the Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Each of us can minimize our impact with the Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

2. Share on social media
Use our Leave No Trace graphics and posts to show your support for Leave No Trace in Austin:


  • Leave No Trace is all about minimizing your impact. You can preserve Austin's natural spaces by practicing the 7  each time you head outdoors. Learn more at #LeaveNoTrace #LeaveNoTraceATX #EnjoyYourWorld
  • Headed outdoors this weekend? Be sure to Plan Ahead and Prepare by reading up on your destination and packing right so you can Leave No Trace in Austin's natural spaces. #LeaveNoTrace #LeaveNoTraceATX #EnjoyYourWorld


  • Preserve Austin's natural spaces by practicing the Leave No Trace 7 Principles each time you head outdoors. #LeaveNoTrace #LeaveNoTraceATX
  • Minimize your impact on Austin by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more at #LeaveNoTraceATX

3. Teach kids about Leave No Trace
Bring your kids to our Park Ranger Leave No Trace Events. Find our Park Rangers' latest events on Facebook at

4. Visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics 
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has a wealth of information and resources on how you can Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace in Every Park













© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: