Traditionally, I always hike at Coyote Wall on New Year's Day. Unfortunately, this year the trailhead was packed and I decided it wouldn't be a good choice, given the pandemic and need for social distancing. So, I continued east for a few more minutes to Lyle Cherry Orchard. I haven't done this hike for several years, so I'm glad I did!
This trail is a great workout as it climbs steadily from the beginning. Fortunately for out of shape people like me, this hike offers stunning views the entire way for you to enjoy while you catch your breath. I did find the trail to be a little muddy/slippery due to recent rain, which makes the steepness a little more challenging, but it wasn't too bad and it only affected a few portions of the trail. I was glad to have my trekking pole, though, as it made it much easier to manage the steepness and any slick sections.
From a social distancing standpoint, this hike isn't too bad. If we assume New Year's was a busy day, there were still only a few cars and I only encountered a couple other people on the trail (hiking in early afternoon). However, the trail is narrow with minimal room on either side (usually a steep slope), so I'd expect it would be hard to keep a safe distance from others if the parking lot was full and there were a lot of people hiking. There's also a large sign near the beginning of the trail with a map that points out how difficult social distancing will be in each section, which was pretty cool.
All in all, this is a beautiful hike and it was a great way to start off the year!