Back Country Etiquette

Back Country Etiquette

In the Valley of Trails, as across Vancouver Island and British Columbia, we encourage visitors and residents to enjoy the natural resources in our backyard. We do insist that everyone enjoying the valley follow the Eight Rules of Back Country Etiquette. By following these eight simple rules, we can all ensure that the Valley of Trails will be enjoyed by the next visitor and the next generation.

Eight Rules of Back Country Etiquette

  1. Respect Private Property
  2. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  3. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  4. Dispose of Waste Properly
  5. Leave What You Find
  6. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  7. Respect Wildlife
  8. Be Considerate of Others

 

The Eight Rules of Back Country Etiquette are the cornerstone of the Valley of Trails message:

  1. Respect Private Property
    • Much of the Valley of Trails consist of a working forest
      • Be aware of posted signs and stay away from active logging areas
      • Do not approach any machinery or equipment
      • Drive defensively with you headlights on at all times
    • Educate yourself as to the ownership of land
    • Do not trespass on private property
  2. 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.
    • Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4-6.
    • Repackage food to minimize waste.
    • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
  3. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
    • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
    • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 70 meters from lakes and streams.
    • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
    • In popular areas:
      • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
      • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
      • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
    • In pristine areas:
      • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
      • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
  4. Dispose of Waste Properly
    • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
    • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 15 to 20 centimeters deep at least 70 meters from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
    • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
    • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 70 meters away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
  5. Leave What You Find
    • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
    • 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.
  6. Minimize Campfire Impacts
    • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
    • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
    • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
    • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
  7. Respect Wildlife
    • 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.
    • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
    • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
  8. Be Considerate of Others
    • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
    • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
    • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
    • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
    • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises

Important

UPDATE - The BC Wildfire Service has declared a ban on all Category 2 fires.  This means anything larger than a campfire (0.5 meters wide and 0.5 meters high) is presently prohibited. The forest is extra dry this spring so please be very careful!

IMPORTANT – Any of the various trails described on this website might be accessed through, or pass over, privately owned land. It is solely your responsibility as a hiker to ensure that you have the appropriate permission from the landowner before travelling on any privately owned land. When travelling on privately owned land, please be respectful and responsible, to help ensure the landowners future cooperation with hikers.  

When travelling on privately owned forestry roads, make sure to stay aware and follow all posted signs. Do not enter any areas that are marked closed for active logging, and never approach any logging equipment. Island Timberlands kindly provides information on access restrictions and other important info on their BLOG.

Whenever you venture into the wilderness it is important that you make someone aware of your travel plans, in the event that an emergency situation occurs. Always make sure that you bring with you appropriate survival equipment when venturing into the wilderness for even the shortest hikes. Be mindful of the difficulty of individual trails, and do not attempt hikes that are beyond your physically abilities or training. The volunteers, and owners, of the Valley of Trails website provide information about trails and outdoor activities in the Alberni Valley, but in no way assume responsibility or liability whatsoever in regards to your safety when venturing into the wilderness. It is your responsibility to stay safe in the Valley of Trails.