From the Archives: The Trampers’ 10 Commandments

May 07, 2020
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


From the Archives: The Trampers’ 10 Commandments
Excerpt from New York Walk Book. Photo by New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Founding Trail Conference member Frank Place, who served as the organization’s president from 1938 through 1941, penned and published the following rules for hikers, known as The Trampers’ 10 Commandments:

  1. Respect all property as a tolerated, uninvited guest.
  2. Walk through no prohibited ground.
  3. Leave gates and rails, fences and walls, markers and signs, just as you found them.
  4. Gather no rare flowers, and none at all in parks.
  5. Pick no cultivated fruit, damage no growing timber.
  6. Clear ample space, before a fire is laid, of leaves and twigs; build on pine needles—never.
  7. Make sure the fire is OUT before you leave— nothing is “good enough” but out; drenching is best.
  8. Leave any campsite cleaner than you found it; and, at established camps, replenish wood for fires and used supplies.
  9. Warn guests of proper dress for the particular country to be covered.
  10. Do nothing that could discredit trampers.

These words of wisdom for “trampers”—or as we’d be more likely to call ourselves today, “hikers”—were published in 1923 by The American Geographical Society of New York in the first edition of The New York Walk Book.

Today, they’ve been simplified to the motto “leave no trace” and modified into seven principles for enjoyable, responsible use of the outdoors:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  6. Respect wildlife. 
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

For a wonderful look at our “tramping” past, the first edition of The New York Walk Book has been digitized by Google and is available to read online.