Keep Your Distance On Trails and In Parks, Stay in Your Neighborhood
These three things are essential right now: stay 6 feet apart, only go outside with people in your household and hike with extra caution. Also, stay close to home for your outdoor time.
Update 6 p.m. 3.23.20: Today, the governor issued a stay home, stay healthy order, which means it is more important than ever to keep walks and outdoors time close to home.
Hikers across the state attended to our mental health by spending time outdoors this weekend, but many hikers are still not following the public health guidelines for social distancing. If we want to keep each other safe and don't want to lose access to trails or parks, we all have to do better, and fast.
Here are the three essential things every single person who visits parks and trails needs to do right now:
- Stay at least 6 feet apart. Some trails, green spaces and parks in urban areas may not be big enough to safely accommodate visitors at peak times. Avoid popular places (like Rattlesnake Ledge, Mailbox Peak, Dog Mountain, Lake 22 or Oyster Dome). Go in off hours or take a walk around your neighborhood instead. If we want to continue to have access to parks, it's important that crowds do not gather.
- Only spend time with people isolating in your household. Don't meet up with friends, hiking or running groups.
- Hike with extra caution. Resources are scarce. Don't take any risks that could require search and rescue or put you in the hospital. No one ever intends to get hurt or need rescue, but when making decisions on trail right now, choose the safer trail or course of action. Save the thrills for later.
We've been reading trip reports where hikers sought out trails and spaces where they could practice good distancing, or adjusted their hikes to avoid getting too close to each other. Thank you for showing leadership in your actions. But for the safety of our community, we need everyone — every single hiker and person visiting parks — to give each other at least 6 feet of space at all times. If we want parks and trails to stay open to us in the coming weeks, we have to do better at social distancing.
And remember, please be kind to each other. We got this, if we work together (and stay 6 feet apart).
Campgrounds close, additional restrictions put in place
Officials in King County, Snohomish County, Seattle and other cities had to close portions of parks because of too many people gathering at one time over the weekend. Edmonds and Everett have also issued stay-at-home orders, so people in those areas should check local guidelines, and probably just plan on local walks for now.
Campgrounds across the state have also closed. Oregon State Parks also took the step to close trails in their state parks. Here is the latest:
- Washington State Parks, and Departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife have closed all campgrounds March 23-April 30. State officials are also asking people to avoid visiting beaches.
- Olympic National Park also closed campgrounds as of March 22.
More restrictions may very likely be put in place this week, so before you head out in your neighborhood, double check what the community needs from you to stay safe.