Whether walking, biking, running, birdwatching, or walking the dog, we all use trails – and now more than ever. National reports have indicated a 100 to 200 percent increase in trail use over the last few months while our cities and towns have been on stay-at-home or stay-close-to-home orders.
This is exciting news for trails: Interest and awareness is increasing, and trails are being used more, and by more people. However, this can lead to crowding, especially at popular trailheads and parks. And, crowds can have greater impacts such as increased littering and the need for additional maintenance.
The Lawrence Hopewell Trail is a multipurpose trail, open to bicyclists, walkers, joggers, hikers, and skaters. The trail is a community resource, built and managed by the community, for the community. And it takes a community of trail users to maintain a safe and inclusive experience for all.
• Bike, walk, or jog in single file or take up no more than half the trail.
• Step off the trail when taking a break.
• Move at a safe and controlled speed.
• Be mindful of space and noise level.
• Signal to others with an audible warning before passing.
• Don’t tune out, always be alert and able to hear other trail users.
• Greet fellow users with a smile, nod, wave or a friendly hello.
Be a Good Steward:
• Leave no trace – dispose of all waste properly.
• Do not disturb wildlife and their habitats.
• Respect all trail infrastructure and natural and cultural resources.
• Leave what you find for others to enjoy.
• Keep pets on a leash and under control at all times, especially when other trail users are close or passing by.
• Pick up after your pet.
photo by Kim Thompson Grillo
These guidelines are common practices that allow us all to share and enjoy the trail. For the foreseeable future, we all must adhere to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Current medical and public health guidance supports engaging in outdoor physical activity – including on trails – as a safe way to maintain physical and mental health and wellness.
Best practices include:
• Limit group size when possible.
• Maintain a safe social distance of at least six feet.
• Face coverings are suggested as a voluntary public-health measure to avoid spreading the virus to others, especially in areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
• Stay at home if you are exhibiting any symptoms of illness.
photo by Ruth Markoe