It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun is shining and the temperature is in the upper 60s to mid 70s with a light breeze. After being cooped inside all week nature is calling. So, you lace up your hiking boots and prepare for a day trip to the great outdoors. But when you finally arrive you realize everyone else had the same idea. Lot after lot filled with cars, with dozens of additional vehicles lined up along the roadway. You were almost certain you could abide by social distancing rules at a state park then suddenly you feel defeated. What now? Do you turn around and head home? Before you arrive to find yourself in this circumstance, dreading a potentially wasted trip, here are five ways to navigate the situation before making that U-turn.
Arrive early. You know the saying ‘the early bird gets the worm’? Be the bird. Look up what time the park opens and aim to arrive within an hour of that time to avoid the crowds. It may seem like the simplest advice but many of us prefer our sleep over sensibility. In this case, by the time all those sleepyheads arrive around noon you’ll be finishing up your well-deserved, uninterrupted nature walk.
Take the drive. More often than not, the general public prefers the easiest option which generally means whatever is right in front of them. The first two, three, heck even six lots might be full, but the further you drive into the park the better your odds are for avoiding crowds.
Visit AllTrails, a go-to for trail enthusiasts with suggestions on which nature walk is best suited for you. It’s detailed guide tells you everything you need to know– distance, approximate time, route type, elevation gain, photos, and even public reviews. It’s an ideal source for planning ahead or even on the spot when your original plan falls through. Keep in mind, the less reviewed destinations are also the most likely to provide a spacious environment.
Google it. While AllTrails finds tailor-made trails for hikers based on park or trail name, Google maps is a great resource for those who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for. By simply mapping out a radius, Google will disclose the nearest parks. It’s sort of like getting lost in the right direction.
Bring a mask. Being surrounded by nature won’t always guarantee the social distancing you might need. Our new reality is that most parks even have signs stating a six feet mandate. If you’re truly stuck with either lace up or go home, at least be prepared the way you would anywhere else. Some nature is better than none at all.