Understanding Hikers’ Behavioral Intent Towards Leave No Trace in Great Smoky Mountains National Park


  • David Schafer Western Carolina University
  • Andrew J. Bobilya Western Carolina University
  • Ben Lawhon Recreation Solutions Group
  • W. Brad Faircloth UNC Asheville
  • Jeremy Schultz Western Carolina University




Great Smoky Mountains National Park, leave no trace, theory of planned behavior, hikers


Resource degradation is a chief concern related to increased recreational of U.S. public lands. The Seven Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles are used to educate visitors how to reduce recreational impacts. This study sought to understand Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) hikers’ behavioral intent towards LNT practices. A quantitative questionnaire was used to measure participants’ behavioral intent towards LNT based on 4 predictor variables: attitudes of appropriateness, perceived effectiveness, perceived difficulty, and self-reported knowledge. 285 total questionnaires were completed. These results indicate that the predictor variables had varying levels of influence on hikers’ behavioral intent, with perceived effectiveness and difficulty being the most significant predictors. GRSM staff may be able to reduce hiker impact by focusing education on the effectiveness and ease of practice of LNT Principles. GRSM staff may also provide education that increases hikers’ understanding of impacts and emphasizes appropriateness of proper LNT behavior.


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Coalition for Education in the Outdoors Special Issue 2022