The Trail Karma Initiative: Give More, Get More

The following post is courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. To submit your own story or query, click here

The principle of karma says that life revolves around a system of cause and effect. If one person does something good (no matter how big or small) they shall receive something good back… and vice versa for the bad. Karma has given us a moral compass, sitting in the back of our heads, telling us to spread kindness and resist bad temptations. This applies to all aspects of life, including Trail Karma on our very own long trails.

This year, the philosophy of Trail Karma is expanding with its very own grassroots initiative. The message has been spread amongst hikers by word of mouth, social media, and their website, educating the public on the best ways to take care of the trail.

trail-karma has a Tagboard that collects all #trailkarma social media posts, and is a great way to browse the good deeds on the trail. Additionally, 500 Trail Karma necklaces (pictured below) were sent out on the Appalachian Trail to be passed along when hikers witness someone else caring for the trail. As these necklaces move around, so does the message, reminding all hikers the importance of being kind to nature.

Trail Karma means that if you take care of the trail, the trail will take care of you.

We can all enjoy the magical wonders of nature as a community who loves and respects it. We want to protect what we love. This means not littering, respecting our furry friends, not vandalizing shelters or trees, and minimizing campfire impact. Basically all of LNT, wrapped up into one ball of happiness and good deeds.

Pack out all of your trash, and leave your camp site cleaner than you found it. Dig deep cat holes—six inches or deeper. Keep your campfires as small as you can, and trying to leave as little debris as possible serves as a good rule of thumb as well. The impact of careless actions runs deeper than just being an eyesore and disrupting nature. It begins the cycle of more regulations and rules being put in place to make hiking less enjoyable.


All Appalachian Trail hikers—whether thru-hiking, section hiking, or day hiking— are encouraged to snap a photo of someone practicing good trail karma. This can be someone (or you) picking up trash, a group trail maintenance project, or just a beautiful sunrise to share. The more we protect and cherish the trail, the less rules and regulations will have to be put in place. If we all chip in to do our part we can preserve this awe – inspiring land for many more generations to come.

Check out the Trail Karma website, Facebook, and Instagram, and use #trailkarma to help spread the word!



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Comments 1

  • Connie : Apr 1st

    While in the Great Smokies, I noticed a “new” thing to me. Now this wasn’t being done on the trail but it was being done by AT hikers. They were putting stickers of where they were from on the back of road signs…. Really looked bad. Please discourage this. What are the words “Leave no trace”??? To me, this means anywhere…


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