Last Friday, Gov. Chris Sununu issued a Home Hike Challenge, emphasizing that Granite Staters should choose hikes close to home. To ensure that our trails and outdoor recreation areas stay open for public use, please practice social distancing and hike responsibly. You can stay safe and get much-needed outdoor time by following these seven tips.
1. Hike Local
You may have heard about the closing of the AMC huts, the Appalachian Trail, and restrictions in some New Hampshire State Parks due to COVID-19, but these are only a small fraction of the outdoor opportunities our region has to offer. Instead of driving long distances or to well-known, highly visited parks and trails, get to know your neighborhood. Chances are there may be public trails, green spaces, and quiet roads near you that you have never even heard of; check out our hiking page for ideas. (Or, discover local places cared for by our friends at the Forest Society, New Hampshire Audubon, the Harris Center, or The Nature Conservancy).
2. Avoid Overcrowding
If the parking area of your destination already has visitors, consider choosing another location or coming back at a less-busy time. When planning to go on a hike, you may want to have a backup location in mind in case your first choice is already crowded. It’s also a good idea to try your favorite local trails at off-peak times and days.
3. Hike Individually or in Small Groups
Enjoying nature solo is a wonderful way to reduce stress and find quality time for self-reflection. If you decide to go out alone, always have a “check-in person,” a trusted person who knows where you will be and what time you expect to be home. Check in with this person before and after you hike. If you do decide to go with a hiking partner or two who aren’t in your family group, make sure you practice the “6-foot rule”.
4. Observe the “6-Foot Rule”
Whether you are hiking with a small group or encountering others along the trail, try to maintain a minimum 6-foot distance between people; we recommend at least 10 feet. This may mean spacing out the members of your small group as you hike and stop for breaks or stepping far to the side of the trail to wait for hikers from the opposite direction to pass.
5. Stay Home If Sick
Perhaps the most important way you can help keep public spaces safe for the public is to stay home if you are sick, are awaiting test results, or suspect that you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Resting at home, avoiding contact with others, and seeking any necessary medical attention are the most important things you can do to care for yourself and those around you.
6. Practice Proper Hygiene
Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations, even when you are out on the trail. One of the easiest things you can do is to pack a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Then you can sanitize your hands before, during, and after your hike. If you stop for a snack, sanitize your hands before and after eating. Cough and sneeze into your elbow and follow other guidelines as closely as you can.
7. Have Fun!
We need your help to keep providing the public with fun, safe outdoor places to enjoy. If you do go out on a trail, even for a short time, please be prepared with appropriate footwear, a map, water, snacks, layers, and a headlamp or flashlight in a day pack. Carry out all trash and personal belongings that you carry in. No camping or fires. Dogs are welcome on a leash. Please be safe and don't take unnecessary risks; let's thank our medical care providers for their dedication by not adding to their workloads right now.