Tread Lightly! was started by the United States Forest Service in 1985 as a public awareness program. In 1990, Tread Lightly! became a nonprofit organization. The Tread Lightly philosophy encourages off-highway enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors responsibly through stewardship to further the goals of responsible and ethical recreation.


  • Travel on trails or other legal areas.
  • Keep your feet and wheels on open roads, trails or in legal riding areas.
  • When you step off trail, watch your step and don’t trample plants.
  • Remember riding up and down stream beds can damage soils, plants and animals in the water.
  • Use maps and signs to help you stay on the trail.
  • Walk or ride slowly through puddles and mud on the trail—not around.
  • When you are on a bike or an ATV, if you can’t go over an object turn back. Report the trail obstacle to the ranger.
  • Keep control of your bike, dirt bikes or ATV.


  • Don’t chase, scare, feed or try to pet animals.
  • Don’t carve on tree bark or draw graffiti on trees and rocks.
  • Watch out for other people on the trails.
  • Keep the noise down, especially in camp.
  • Don’t shine your flashlight into other camps.
  • Don’t ride or run through other camps.


  • Always tell someone else where you are going, who you are with and when you will be back.
  • Remember to pack the seven important items: water, food, first aid kit, raincoat or poncho, flashlight, sunscreen and a whistle.
  • When trail riding or hiking, don’t leave the trail—you are less likely to get lost and much easier to find. If you think you are lost, stay where you are and blow your whistle.
  • Don’t wander off at night.
  • Bring a map, check the weather, and find out about wildlife to be aware of in your area.
  • Bring the proper clothes including good shoes and a jacket—wear a helmet and other protective gear when you ride.


  • Don’t litter or leave food or trash behind.
  • Pick up trash left by others—as long as it is safe.
  • Wash your bike or ATV and other gear after every ride so you won’t spread weed seeds.
  • Leave plants or flowers for others to see.
  • Lend a hand, plant trees and other plants with your local ranger.
  • Clean up after your companion animals.
  • Convince others to keep the land and water clean.