With its unique landscape, formed by a meteorite impact, the fabulous Charlevoix region is characterized by its natural richness that make it a renowned place for hiking. With its magnificent river, mountains, wildlife, tundra, cliffs and hinterland, Charlevoix is a destination of choice for Québecers and visitors from outside the province for their next hiking adventures.
Though we have known for years that hiking and walking are among the most popular outdoor activities for Québecers, we are now seeing a significant increase in traffic on the trails.
Enthusiasm for the outdoors has enormous benefits for the individual and the community. Plus, it presents major challenges for the organizations and private companies that manage and develop the hiking trails: faster degradation of walking areas, harm to the ecosystem and the environment, increased costs related to maintenance, mounting rescue operations and more.
The question we are now asking is : how do we promote these good lifestyle habits while respecting nature and the surrounding communities?
Using common sense is most likely the best answer to our question. It’s true that the growing popularity of trails in recent years has attracted its share of beginners and neophytes to hiking. So, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that everyone knows the “unwritten” laws.
Here are five hiking commandments for respecting nature, the people who maintain these trails, and the communities near these coveted natural places.
1 Pay access rights
It’s not right to think that if no one collects a fee when we arrive, we can take advantage and save a few pennies to indulge in our activity for free. Every site is different and many places trust users where self-serve payments are required.
Why should everyone pay for access to the trails? Because maintenance, signage, security and other services come at a cost! Thus, your payment helps trail managers improve the area, add or repair infrastructure such as bridges or platforms, and develop new hiking trails.
2 Stay on marked trails
The forest is vast and the territory is often endless! In addition to damaging trees, shrubs and plants, leaving marked trails carries a high risk of disorientation and you could get lost. The trails are often in places with no network and it can be difficult to reach someone to help you. In addition, unmarked terrain may contain obstacles, such as holes. The risk of injury is high.
3 Manage your waste properly
After your hike, bring back everything you brought for the outing. The logic behind this is quite simple. The forest is not equipped with garbage cans or waste collection systems. In order to keep the places clean and unpolluted, you must bring a garbage bag in your hiking pack.
Pssst! Even your canine partner’s feces are considered litter (when they’re allowed on the trails, of course!).
4 Leave the environment untouched
Witnessing nature’s beauty, whether it’s the wild flowers, mushrooms or other wonders, is not an opportunity to take anything home. Leaving these elements in their place and untouched is the basis of a healthy ecosystem.
5 Respect other hikers
Many take advantage of hiking to recharge their batteries in nature and find their own moment of Zen. Instinctively, we don’t seek to rub shoulders with the crowds as we walk through the forest. With the growing popularity of the sport, you sometimes meet more people than you imagined, especially at the most popular sites. So, let’s welcome this reality! It’s important to share the trails with other users and to respect each other. Each person goes at his or her own pace! So, step aside when you feel you are slowing a hiker, or ask politely to overtake someone moving slower than you. And doing it with a smile is awesome!