COVID-19 disrupted life and left many of us aching to get back out hiking and enjoying nature. And while the virus isn’t going anywhere soon, quarantine restrictions are slowly easing up in many parts of the country. As this happens, getting back to your regularly scheduled hiking plans will likely be a part of the process. Need ideas on how to navigate this new post-quarantine landscape? Never fear, we’ve got you covered.
1. Hike Less Popular Trails
Social distancing is an important aspect of maintaining the slow spread of COVID-19. Opting to hike less popular trails will not only let you lace those hiking boots up but will enable you to explore new areas, while also keeping yourself and others a little safer. Use the Family Trail Guide to find new-to-you trails.
2. Go Out When the Weather isn’t “Ideal”
Every hiker knows that trails are the busiest on the gorgeous 70-degree, partial sunny days. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. If this is the most popular time for nature exploration, then choosing to hike in less than ideal weather can offer you the ability to easily maintain your six-foot bubble, while also hiking your favorite trail. Review these tips for hiking in the rain with kids.
3. Explore Large Open Areas
Looking for another way to maintain your six-foot bubble around other outdoor enthusiasts? Exploring large open areas with multiple trail options, as opposed to selecting a place with a single trail, enables social distancing measures. Some areas to consider are wildlife preserves, state game areas, and Bureau of Land Management land.
4. Use Activities as Motivation to Get Outside
Sometimes the idea of getting outside can be overwhelming and sometimes one or more family members need a little motivation. Outdoor activities, like scavenger hunts, geocaching, or themed hikes, can be all the inspiration one needs to get outside and explore. This L.L. Bean scavenger hunt is the perfect motivator for our little hikers.
5. Adopt New Hiking Etiquette
It is often easy to maintain social distancing guidelines while on the trail, but not always. Consider carrying a mask with you and wear it when you are near others. Pro-tip, a bandana or neck gaiter can be used as a mask, offers some UV protection, and, when wet, are great for cooling down. Another post-COVID-19 hiking etiquette you may consider is to avoid using the parking lot or trailhead as a place to prepare for your hike (such as eating a snack or double-checking your backpack). Instead, opt to do these things before you arrive to limit your time in the more crowded areas.
It’s been difficult and strange adjusting to this COVID-19 world. Getting outside and absorbing all that nature has to offer is fantastic for our mental health, but it is important to try and adjust our hiking expectations while we find our new post-pandemic normal.