Leave no trace. Cairns. Rock Stacking. Hiking tips https://www.cascadeloop.com/hey-hikersleave-those-rocks-alone
Travel Advisory: COVID-19
Rock pile
Free Travel Guide
Sign Up for
Our Newsletter

Hey Hikers, Leave Those Rocks Alone

After months spent in quarantine during the COVID-19 outbreak, a whole lot of folks have just been itching to not only get out of the house, but to get out of town and into some fresh air. Not surprisingly, hiking trails, state and national parks are seeing more folks than ever, so all manner of issues are popping up in the wild. Now is a great time to take some practices we're finally starting to get used to in our pandemic-centric daily lives--not touching items and surfaces that could be shared by others--and apply it to our time in nature as well. 

When you see a bunch of pretty loose stones and you have the urge to express yourself through rock stacking, resist! 

When you see need little stacks of rocks along the trail and you think to yourself, man, those sure would look nicer if you moved them to the other side of the trail, resist that urge too! 

Rock stacks--cairns--serve a number of purposes but when tampered with or built without understanding or consideration have some pretty negative impacts. 

So WHY should you leave the rocks alone?

1. Cairns Are Trail Markers. Folks who design hiking trail systems, particularly in wilderness areas, place cairns to help guide hikers and backpackers through terrain that could easily become visually obscured in poor weather. When you opt to pile up rocks to either mark your own trail or to express yourself artistically, you may well have the unintended consequence of sending a future hiker off-trail and into danger.

2. Rocks Are Habitat. All manner of critters seek shelter under and around rocks. Not only could you be destroying an adorable little birds nest unknowingly, for example, there may well be a little snake under that rock waiting to say hello. Also, if you opt to stack rocks to mark your own trail, you may well we creating a new, heavily used trail in the future that passes through sensitive habitat area.

3. Cairns May Be Culturally Significant. Some cairns have been in place for hundreds of years and bear deep meaning to the people who placed them originally. Our job when in the wild is to appreciate the beauty around us, not to alter or destroy it. Respect the landscape around you, the people who enjoyed it before you as well as those to follow.

In a nutshell, like all things found in the wild, Leave No Trace. We are so lucky to have so much beauty around us along the Cascade Loop. We realllllly want to keep it that way.