Hiking blog

Back to Blog

Hiking

How To Leave No Trail On A Hike

October 13, 2018

Not everyone wants to leave a trail while out in nature. Everyone has their reasons, and I’d just like to offer some ways to move like a ghost. One of the best reasons to move with care is for the respect of nature. Why walk through the woods like a beast trying to turn over every home, path and food source in nature?

As a young hunter, I grew up learning to walk through the woods as quietly as possible. My father would tell me to walk without making a sound. That is no small task when it seems every leaf and twig in the woods decides to lay under your feet. If you are making noise you are leaving a trail. The first suggestion I have is to wear shoes with soft bottoms. Soft bottoms give and allow you to move your feet in the needed angles to get between branches, leaves and other obstacles. I used to wear hunting boots and hiking boots but that makes walking through the woods a messy proposition.

Second, I believe balance is the single most important part of leaving no trail and remaining silent. Maintaining your balance allows you to stay on one foot longer giving you more time to judge where to put your next foot. It also gives you time between steps to listen to your environment and what’s moving in it.

Take steps by placing your toes down first followed ball of your foot and roll down to the heel. The whole time you should be looking forward while concentrating on each step. Do you feel any objects under foot? If so adjust the step until it’s a secure one. Look for the next step then repeat the process.

Taking a minute or so between footsteps is necessary. I know this works because I have increased my hunting success significantly over the years. I can usually get close enough to deer where I can grab them and the difference has been that I have no trail and make almost no noise.

Breathing with your mouth open helps you become more aware of your situation. When you close your mouth and are exerting energy you hear your breathing, and it’s loud. That makes you lose your balance and leave a trail. You may even hear your heart pounding in your ears since you have become more aware, making your movements sloppy.

Take a look behind you every so often and see what signs you are leaving behind. If you see where you came from you need to do a better job placing your footsteps.  Walking like a ghost means that you have to learn how to walk. Instead of stomping down you may have to guide your foot under some leaves or tilt your foot to part grass or brush before placing your foot down. Again, balance is the key. If you cannot balance on one foot at a time, you will have a tough time.

Some other ways to not leave a trail is to choose objects to walk on. In areas with old trees you may be able to walk on exposed roots, or by creeks, you might be able to walk on larger rocks. Just don’t rock the object you walk on because it will show in the mud.

The only way to improve this skill will be to practice frequently. If you have young children have them practice this skill with you. You would be so surprised about all the wildlife you will see once you can do this. I have lost count on all the black bear I have snuck up on.

    Leave a Comment!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Susan K
    January 9, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Great article. I feel like sometimes when hiking with a group, it is all about getting to the destination and talking the whole way not taking time to see what is around you.

    R. Schuh
    January 9, 2018 at 7:55 am

    A rule that I learned at a young age was that you always haul your own trash out of the wilderness. At a slightly older age, I learned the corollary to that rule: Always haul out more trash than you take with you. When we were able, some friends and I used to meet for a week-long canoe-camping trip every fall. We always kept a spare trash bag in each canoe. We used it for trash we picked up on the way. Those bags had a tendency to fill up by the time we had gone 3 miles, so we stopped to unload them at the park’s dumpsters whenever we could. All told, we disposed of 5 or 6 bags full of trash that others had left every trip.

    David
    January 11, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you. Good advice

    October 17, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    […] Hiking is one of the most popular ways of enjoying the natural world, but for those with allergies, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, you get to enjoy the sights and sounds Mother Nature provides and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Hiking also allows you to get a bit of exercise gives you the chance to breathe in the fresh outdoor air. But on the other hand, that fresh air is often full of pollen that can cause your allergies to flare up. And as you are undoubtedly already aware, hiking with a runny nose and itchy, watering eyes is never very fun. Fortunately, there are a number of tricks you can employ to help reduce your allergy symptoms and enjoy a great day on the trail. […]