Rules of the Forest

Rules of the Forest

Nature gives us many ways to enjoy ourselves, but there are just as many reasons to be careful. If we follow some basic rules, we can have fun and enjoy the outdoors without hurting plants, animals, or ourselves. Visit to find more information about the National Forest you are visiting.

  • Before you get on the trail, make sure you have the local Forest Service Ranger District’s or Supervisor’s Office phone number with you. In case someone gets hurt, this should be your first number to call.
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to come back so that they can make sure you have returned safely.
  • During storms, forests can be very dangerous. Remain alert and seek shelter (hiding under a tree is not a good option if there is lightning.)
  • Be mindful of the sun. Use sunscreen, seek shade, and drink plenty of water.
  • Animals have their own natural food supply, so please, don’t feed them.
  • Fruits and mushrooms can look tasty, but some are poisonous. To be safe, do not eat anything you find growing in the forest.
  • When you ride a bike, always wear a helmet.
  • Many forests have designated swimming areas, but make sure to use your best judgment and be careful. If you don’t feel totally comfortable in the water, it is best to stay out.
  • Railroad tracks are for trains only. Keep to the side and stay off the tracks.

For longer trips to the forest such as weekend camping trips, refer to Tread Lightly's recreation tips to see a more elaborate list of recommendations.