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  1. #1
    New Member UberSquid's Avatar
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    Illegal Camping?

    I live in Southern Indiana where we have some excellent longer trails available. We have the 42 mile Tecumseh Trail and the longer Knobstone trail. The only problem is that there are limited camping areas along some of the trails. I was reading a trail guide, that will be left unnamed, that suggested some people choose to use camping areas that are technically illegal to camp in. While the odds of being caught and fined are few I'm not a big fan of intentionally misusing public hiking areas.

    Anyone else have this issue? Anyone ever camped in areas not designated as legal camping areas?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mustardman's Avatar
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    Search for "stealth hanging" on this very site, and see how many people are camping places they aren't supposed to

    Sometimes the rules are awful, and even the ones who are supposed to be enforcing them know that they are awful, but there is no political will to do anything about it, so it just slides under the radar. Other times, people need to respect the rules, which were put there for good reason. Separating the two is incredibly difficult and is a great way to stir up a nasty argument.

    'Round these parts the "to stealth camp or not to stealth camp" discussions are generally pretty civil, but I've seen them get NASTY on some other boards.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wildcrafter's Avatar
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    try to do the right thing is the best idea but sometimes a rule isnt known and mistakes happen.
    welcome to planet earth no one gets out alive

  4. #4
    Senior Member Krissa's Avatar
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    I've always been of the opinion you should never go out to blatantly disobey the rules. There are some areas with heavy use (Red River Gorge) where illegal campsites detract from the beauty of the area - this mostly pertains to tent camping were people insist on camping almost in the middle of the trail. I also don't think that a ticket from a ranger is worth it.

    That said I have stealth camped twice. Once while backpacking in a area with designated sites my husband began feeling very ill. We had to stop and set up camp. He could not hike out and could not go onto the proper site. He felt better by morning and we hiked straight back to the car and went home instead of finishing the hike. I felt it would have been dangerous to hike further that day.

    The second time we reached the designated camp area to find a drunk hiker with a compound bow. I see nothing wrong with bow hunting and own a compound myself but nothing was in season at the time and alcohol and weapons do not mix. We decided to hike further along the trail and stealth camp away from him. We did report his presence to the rangers the next day before we drove home.

    All that said, most of the rules out there make me very angry, especially the no dog rules. I hate the fact that irresponsible individuals ruin it for the rest of us. I clean up after my dog and do not allow her to run loose. But as much as I hate the dog rules I will not take my dog into forbidden areas, it only enforces the idea that dog owners are irresponsible and ensures that the no dog rule will continue.
    As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do. ~Ernest Hemmingway

  5. #5
    Senior Member bear bag hanger's Avatar
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    I do a bit of stealth camping, but only when there isn't another way. Too often, a trail has too many miles between the authorized camping areas. One place along the Florida National Senic Trail has over 32 miles between authorized camping areas. The Long Trail in Vermont has a similar area. I'm not able to hike more than 18 - 20 miles in a day, so yes, sometimes I have to stealth camp.

  6. #6
    Member JoeyB's Avatar
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    while we all realize there's a reason for rules and regulations to deter the masses.
    it's a shame that when we see,
    A.T.V.'s run out of control on public and private back country land, destroying legally built trails for non motorized traffic.
    boaters leaving mass amounts of garbage when they illegally camp in unauthorized areas of lake shore bordering national parks.
    horseback riders ravaging hiking only trails, riding their horses around blow downs etc... and tearing up forest floor.

    most know they'll never get caught doing so, let alone having to face any serious repercussions.

    and yet, simply tying a few soft lines around a tree and leaving little or no trace upon leaving.......

  7. #7
    Senior Member Rolloff's Avatar
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    As the nick suggests, I've done my share of both. Camping in non-designated areas, and actual stealth camping. I consider them to be both individual unto themselves and only alike in their illegality.

    First off, since the HNF considers all but a few of it's trails as MU's or Multi Use, which means the Horses and ATV's turn them into unusable slogs, for anyone but themselves, I will hike and camp as far away from them as humanly possible.

    On sections of the two thru trails mentioned, portions of which run through both private easement and state forests, I would attempt to adhere to the rules, especially on the private easement sections. As far as the extreme backcountry of the state forests, as long as it's LNT and stealth-like(in at dusk, out by daylight, no fire) I wouldn't hesitate should my progress on the trail dictate a stop over before I could reach HNF property again.

    That said, it's a lot harder to ask forgiveness if caught with 3 or 4 days equipment, several miles from anywhere close to where you should be, compared to that secluded woodlot, just off the side of that scenic country road somewhere. There you can at least make your apologies as you are packing up, and motor away out of the area, while John Law can see you, instead of him having to monitor you all the way back to a proper trail head somewhere.

    The less leeway a John Law feels he has the less he will be inclined to offer you any. Apologize emphatically, "I was tired or felt sick, it was too dark, I was scared off the road by teenagers." Offer to pay a reasonable fee to the owner, promise your travels will not bring you back that way again. Even offer to "network" the site as off limits on your fav Hammock forum, all the while you are packing up, with obvious intention of moving on, if allowed.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Can't Wait's Avatar
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    We have a trail like a few mentioned above that have designated sites spread far and in between . Whats sad is your walking down a trail maybe 3 feet wide and no trespassing signs running parallel, to the trail I stealth camp keep quiet no fires and pack out what I pack in all you can do. Sometimes I can't hike 18 miles especially with high elevation gains.

  9. #9
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UberSquid View Post
    ... some people choose to use camping areas that are technically illegal to camp in. ...
    What is "technically" illegal?

    The adage is "reputation is what you do when someone is watching, character is what you do when no one is watching."

    For some "stealth" blatantly means nothing more than knowingly and intentionally camping illegally. For others, "stealth" means something akin to "leave no trace."

    Rain Man

    .
    "You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims." --Harriet Woods
    .

  10. #10
    Senior Member carolinasbackpacker's Avatar
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    in cases of doing long hike I usually get in touch with the people responsible for the management. I have had one incident when I was given a special permit to camp trail side as long as I did not start any fires
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