Outdoor ethics constantly evolves with emerging research, but many basic principles for trail use remain the same. We ask that you follow these simple guidelines to the best of your abilities when visiting SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve and other outdoor spaces. 

One less commonly heard principle of hiking is planning ahead. It is important to know the boundaries of the site you plan on visiting as well as any obstacles you may come across. Knowing the properties of the ecosystem also allow you to observe and learn about the flora and fauna that you may come across, for example, knowing what to do in the event of running into a bear or deer. 

Another guideline for spending time outside is travelling on designated, durable surfaces. Staying on the boardwalk or established trails allows you to not disturb sensitive habitat areas. Nobody would like to step on a small animal, run into a nest, or crush rare moss. Not only that, noxious weeds love to spread by clinging onto hiking boots. Staying on trails helps to limit unwanted seed dispersal of noxious weeds.

Pack it in, pack it out. Nothing ruins a peaceful walk outside like empty plastic water bottles, chip bags, and disposable silverware. If you are able, cleaning up trash you find on a trail is also encouraged. 

Remember to follow the access rules for the natural area you are visiting. Although we love our furry family members, dogs and other pets are not allowed at SHADOW. They can chase wildlife and stomp on native species. When you are in a place where dogs are allowed, please pick up their waste and take it with you. Also remember to follow leash rules in natural areas as it helps prevent dogs from chasing and harming native wildlife.

It is important to leave what you find in nature. Picking native plants such as wildflowers and berries means that there won’t be as many plants around to reproduce and reseed for next year. Even that special leaf or stick can be food or habitat. Just like you do not want people to steal from your home, leaving the ecosystem as you found it is a way to show respect for all of its wonders. 

Lastly, we should respect our fellow human animals as well. Playing music, shouting, or damaging surroundings can ruin others’ valuable experiences. We appreciate you spending your time outside, it is essential to our health and well-being but please enjoy nature responsibly.