Ontario Parks


Etiquette in the Backcountry

A backcountry trip can be a life-changing experience. It requires preparation, respect, and knowledge.

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

  • Plan your route and know park regulations.
  • Leave a detailed trip itinerary with someone at home and inform them when you plan to be back.
  • Consult accurate weather forecast.
  • Bring proper clothing and equipment - including a map, compass and first aid kit. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Camp only on designated sites. Keep your group to nine people or less.
  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Do not widen trails or cause damage to surrounding areas. Use existing trails and portages only.
  • Walk single file in the centre of the trail.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • In pristine areas:
    • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
    • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack food in reusable, leak-proof containers to minimize waste.
  • Pack it in, pack it out! Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. Do not bury garbage as animals will just dig it up. You may burn paper.
  • If an outdoor privy is not available, deposit solid human waste in small holes dug 15 to 20 centimeters deep at least 70 meters from water, campsites, and trails. Replace soil immediately.
  • To wash yourself or dishes, carry water 70 meters away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Dispose of grey water in a pit, giving biodegradable soap time to breakdown before reaching the water. Bathing or washing dishes in lakes or streams can pollute. Food bits and soaps attract unwanted wildlife.
  • Anglers should dispose of fish remains in fast moving current or in deep water. Do not leave remains out in open areas or on shore.

Leave What You Find

    Leave any natural object where you found it. It is illegal to cut any live vegetation, harass wildlife or disturb or remove cultural artifacts in a provincial park.
  • Clean your boots and gear so you don’t transport invasive species.
  • Do not build structures, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking.
  • Check for active fire bans before you start your trip. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Ensure all coals are burned down to a fine ash and fire is fully extinguished (ashes should be cool to the touch).
Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

  • Do not disturb wildlife, particularly when they are nesting, mating, or are young.
  • Do not feed wildlife as this is illegal, can cause human/wildlife conflicts and jeopardize the animal’s health.
  • Pack food securely and hang your pack between trees, at least 6 metres above the ground. Do not bring food of any kind into your tent.

Be Considerate of Others

  • Remember that sound travels across water. Noise pollution disturbs wildlife and will diminish everyone’s wilderness experience. Chances of seeing wildlife are better if you travel quietly.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Some parks have irregular boundaries and there may be parcels of privately owned land within those boundaries. Be considerate of others and their property, including municipal and private roads.
  • Before you leave, complete a final scan of your campsite. Ensure the fire is out and all garbage is collected (even trash that was there before you. Before entering and leaving the park, thoroughly clean the hull of your boat to avoid the spread of invasive species.