Life in Pennsylvania has changed drastically over the past couple of weeks due to the increasing presence of COVID-19. While isolation and social-distancing are key to flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19, this doesn’t mean you need to avoid going outside and utilizing the health and wellbeing benefits that trails and nature can provide during this stressful time. There are however, some key things to consider if you decide to hit the trails:

Social-Distancing
However you utilize the trails, keep a social distance from others. According to John Hopkins Medicine, social distancing is deliberately keeping 6ft or more between you and the next individual. Gathering in groups for outdoor recreation is not recommended, as that counteracts the recommendation of social distancing. To avoid crowds, hit the trails during less busy times of the day and don’t stop to engage in conversation.

Good Hygiene
Do not go outside or engage in outdoor recreation if you’re sick. Not only do you risk infecting others, but you put your own health and safety at risk. Additionally, keep in mind that many, if not all, open space facilities are closed throughout the state, so restrooms are not readily available. Bring hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing wipes and use them regularly, and wash your hands before and after any outdoor recreational pursuit. Avoid any public services, such as water fountains, unless absolutely necessary. For the latest information regarding COVID-19 and appropriate guidelines, check the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Trail Check
Always check ahead to make sure that the trail you are hoping to access is still accessible. If hoping to visit a state park, check the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website for the most up-to-date information. If you’re in search of a trail, check out Explore PA Trails for a trail near you.

This is a challenging and stressful time for all of us in the Commonwealth and we need the relief that open spaces and our trails can provide to us. With common sense and consideration, we can all safely benefit from the trails today and in the weeks to come.