Avoid fragile areas

frigal-areasThough the Northeast’s forests are very productive and vegetation seems vigorous and plentiful, damage to plants due to backcountry recreation is a widespread and increasing problem. Select routes that avoid fragile terrain, critical wildlife habitat or any area where signs of your passage will invite others to follow. Campsites in pristine areas that are used for too many nights during a growing season-generally as little as five to ten days per year-or that receive heavy use over a short period of time are very susceptible to severe and long term vegetation damage. All alpine areas are considered fragile because of susceptibility to trampling, slow recovery from impact, and the large number of hikers that visit them. Stick to trails in the alpine zone. If you must leave the trail, walk on exposed rocks. Areas of wet soils are also considered fragile. On ground that is saturated either year round-marshy or boggy areas-or by heavy rains, restrict off-trail travel to exposed rocks, sandy soils, or find alternate routes. Broad-leafed plants and low-growing shrubs, common in alpine areas and the forest floor, are also fragile. Choose routes that avoid these vegetation types.