Are you ready, boots? Hiking do’s and don’ts in the age of COVID-19

Hiking is a wonderful thing. It’s great exercise and it’s good for the psyche. But with more newbies hitting the trail, and concerns about social distancing, it’s time to take a fresh look at trail etiquette.

Many people aren’t riding together anymore due to COVID, so if four friends go hiking, they each drive a car. “This, along with more people seeking outdoor recreation, has resulted in a parking problem at the trailheads,” says a mountain guide. We’ve heard stories of 2-mile backups at popular trails, and trailside parking lots full by 7 a.m. or earlier.

What can you do? “Go wicked early,” he suggests. Bonus: You’ll get to see a nice sunrise. That’s better than arriving late and taking a chance on hiking out of the woods in the dark. And always have a Plan B: If the parking lot is full, go to another location. Weekends are obviously busiest, but midweek crowds have been substantial during the pandemic as well.

In a perfect world, we would all respect each other’s personal space. That doesn’t always happen on the trail. “Some people are trying to keep their distance on the trail, some hold their breath, and some don’t care — and don’t care that you care,” he says.

Typically, a group of hikers should yield to an individual on a trail, and the person who’s ascending has the right of way (meaning, descending hikers should make way for them). Newbies may not realize this, and you may have to get off the trail to avoid other hikers. But going off the trail can harm the environment.

What to do? “Aim for rocks and roots and open drainages,” Cherim says. “Don’t walk on mosses and alpine vegetation. Walking on roots doesn’t hurt trees, but walking on the soil around trees causes damage.”

More tips here…


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