Celebrate Earth Day by following these tips for preserving your favorite dirt run.

Photo: Allison Pattillo
Photo: Allison Pattillo

In case you were looking for a reason to run, the 45th celebration of Earth Day is a perfect excuse to lace up and hit the street or head to your favorite trails! Reusable shopping bags, walking instead of driving, recycling and composting are all valuable ways to show your love for the planet—but so is enjoyed a healthy dose fresh air in the great outdoors.

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If you’re ready to tackle some off-road running, the National Trails System encompasses more than 60,000 mile of trails across all 50 states, making for plenty of unique and beautiful options. However, some trails risk being loved too much. Leave No Trace and their Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers offer the following tips to ensure your favorite ribbons of dirt stay in top running shape.

1. Run down the middle of the trail even when it’s wet or muddy. Going around mud and puddles makes trails wider and results in trampled trailside plants and trees.

2. In the spring, run in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler and muddy areas are more likely to be less sloppy.

3. When possible, stick to south-facing trails. They tend to be the first to dry during spring thawing and post-summer showers.

4. “Pack it in, pack it out.” Wrappers, water bottles and other trash items should be packed out to the nearest trash can. Did you know: It takes up to two years for orange or banana peels to decompose in nature? More than 10 years for plastic bags? And more than 80 years for aluminum cans?

5. Respect the wildlife along your favorite trail by avoiding contact with it. Educate yourself about what might live in the area, and if you encounter wild animals along the trail, wait for them to pass or consider an alternate route.

Visit Leave No Trace for more information on how to stay safe and ‘leave no trace’ on the trails.