It’s no secret that we love outdoor adventures, and we’re huge advocates for getting outside, enjoying fresh air, and responsibly exploring whenever possible. A couple months ago, Washington reopened most of its many trails, and we’ve been thrilled to have the opportunity to get out there, go hiking, and explore the PNW – especially since this is our last summer here. Hiking during these coronavirus times is a different ballgame though, and I’ve learned we have to refocus and kind of adapt as we go in some ways because, yes, even hiking has been impacted by COVID. So, today, I wanted to share five tips for hiking in the time of COVID. With or without kids, these tips could be useful!
Tips for Hiking in the Time of COVID
Regardless of how you feel about ongoing quarantine and restrictions, the fact remains that coronavirus is real, and it seems that many restrictions are here to stay for the foreseeable future. While, of course, we hope that we’ll return to a sense of normalcy at some point, it’s important to be responsible and hold yourself accountable for your own safety, as well as the safety of others to ensure that our trails remain open and that we can continue enjoying the great outdoors. These five tips for hiking in the time of COVID should help you prepare for yourself – and your family – to get out, enjoy, and stay safe while doing so.
1 // Check the Apps
One of the biggest tips I can offer is to know the details before you go. Not everything is the same that it was before coronavirus, and some trails and public lands do remain closed. I recommend checking local trail apps like All Trails or, if you’re in Washington, Washington Trails Association. These sites and apps will give you the most up-to-date stats on whether the trails are open, whether facilities are open, and where to pick backup locations nearby.
2 // Get There Early
A lot of parks, public lands, etc., are enforcing social distancing and, because of this, they’re putting a cap on the number of people entering the park at any given time. You might remember that’s how our hike a few weeks ago ended up turning into a day at Skookum Creek. Parks like Mt. Rainier National Park fill up fast, and if you want to hike without spending an inordinate amount of time in the car waiting to enter, be there early. Even so, like I mentioned before, have a backup plan because a lot of these areas don’t have cell service, and if you want to find another trail, you’ll want to know where to go and how to get there before you arrive.
3 // Bring it In, Pack it Out
I can’t stress this one enough either. With masks being mandatory in many places, the amount of masks, gloves, and more that I’ve seen on the trails might honestly be just as devastating as COVID, itself. Since lots of facilities are closed, as well, irresponsible and uninformed people being forced outside in order to enjoy the summer weather are simply dumping their trash pile upon pile, damaging the environment, the trails, and the parks. If you bring it in, back it out. We always bring a packout bag, and we do our best to pick up some extra trash along the way, as well. Do your part, and don’t be selfish. These trails are for everyone.
4 // Bring All the Supplies You Need
Obviously, I recommend the basics. Bring your snacks, trail food, emergency kits, and more. I also remember bringing plenty of water. Like I said, many facilities are closed, so you won’t be able to get extra water at the trailhead. I also recommend that you bring some sort of kit or tool in the event you need to go to the bathroom while hiking. There are a lot of companies out there who create eco-friendly waste management tools (like Combat Wipes and Kula Cloth), or have petite collapsible trowels to pack along, as well. Any waste you do accumulate should go in your pack out bag. If you want to know what you should bring on any camping or hiking trip, check out this great list from REI.
5 // Be Smart About Distancing
Okay, so here’s the thing. There are a few schools of thought regarding masks while hiking. I, personally, don’t continuously wear my mask while hiking, but I do keep it on hand for times when I can’t social distance. It’s less about me and more about others. I’ll always cover my face if we can’t help but get too close. I also recommend working to keep distance, stepping aside to allow faster hikers to path, and provide a wide berth for others whenever possible. For the most part, people on the trails have been responsible and great, but I always recommend communicating and playing it safe. People seem to be extra responsive when you are.
Ultimately, hiking during the time of COVID is extra special. It’s a way for us to escape the reality of what life is like right now and appreciate the freedom of the great outdoors. However, it’s important for us all to play our part during these times so that the trails remain open for us to enjoy.
Have you done much hiking or outdoor adventuring during these coronavirus times?