Help keep trails open by not abusing them
We all are aware of social distancing recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With trail use up as much as a 200 percent in some communities, following safety guidelines is critical if we want to keep our open spaces open. If the outdoor community does not do its part to self-monitor its social distancing, others will do it for us. As we learn more about how COVID-19 is spread, the recommendations and restrictions will change, but for now these are the new common-sense rules of the trail:
- Wear or Carry a Mask
As you know, it is now recommended that you wear some form of face covering when in public or on trails. You should have one at the ready if you hit a pinch point in the trail and cannot distance the recommended 6 feet fast enough or must navigate a crowded trailhead before you disperse. Obviously, you will not be able to properly disinfect your hands after touching the mask as advised while running or biking, but in this case, it is about protecting others.
- Walk Single File, Even on Wide Trails
This is common sense. If you and your family are walking two or three abreast on an eight-foot-wide trail, you are forcing anyone passing you to choose between stepping off the trail or breathing your air. Do not narrow trails further. Adhere to the 6 feet guidance as much as possible.
- Everyone Yields
During normal times, courteous mountain bikers are supposed to yield to hikers and runners, but now everyone should yield first and then figure out the next move. If you are approaching a slower group, let them know you are coming, and communicate with them to decide on a safe place to pass. Runners and cyclists need to call out or ring bells when approaching blind corners. We need time to make way for each other.
- Step off the Trail if Necessary – it is OK for now
We have always been trained to stay on the trail (per Leave No Trace Principles). To maintain social distancing, if the trail is not wide enough, step off the trail, being careful not to tread on plants if at all possible. Wait for the approaching party to pass, and delicately retrace your footsteps. Whether you are on foot or on wheels, do not cut a new trail parallel to the existing track and disturb more of the environment.