Opinion: Should You Leave Water for Other Hikers?

The other day I had a dilemma along the hiking trails in South Mountain.

Okay, so I’m all about respecting and following the leave no trace behind rule. This is the hiking rule stating that you must leave the trail just as you found it. Do not leave anything and do not take anything. Pretty simple rules to follow. I

I highly agree with this rule. Nothing annoys me more than seeing human trash along the hiking trails. When I’m able to, I pick up the trash I see along the trails and throw it out after my hike.

But a few days ago I noticed something strange.

I noticed a half full water bottle, standing upright, along the side of the trail.

When I first saw the bottle my reaction was to pick it up and take it out with me. But, then when I noticed it was half full of water, I second guessed myself. “Oh, someone must have purposely left this here.” I thought.

I’m assuming that a really nice hiker purposely left it there, for another hiker who may be in need of water. This person probably did it with the best intentions of doing more good than harm.

But this made me feel annoyed. I’m put in this awkward position. I don’t want to see water bottles along the trail, but yet if it will help a fellow hiker out…then I don’t want to remove it.

I’m still having a serious debate in my head with what I should’ve done. So, I’m writing this in hopes to hear some feedback. What would you have done and why?

I created a Pro’s and Con’s list to demonstrate the debate in my head.


  • This act of kindness can save a life and really help someone out. I mean, we are talking about a life.


  • There’s a leave no trace rule, for a reason. And this technically is pollution.
  • These are trails, near the city. Water isn’t really that far away and it’s common sense to bring extra water while hiking in summer.

But again, if someone is in trouble, this would really help them out…

As this debate ping ponged back and forth in my head, I ended up leaving the bottle there. But, a part of me felt didn’t feel good about it.

What do you guys think? Have you noticed this as well? What are your thoughts on this debate? Am I just totally overthinking this?!


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