As we get into fall and the amount of people getting on the trail increases, it's important that we still follow the Vermont Department of Health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We all need to play our part in maintaining a 6 foot distance from others and wearing a mask if you cannot do so - even when you are outside.
While out trail running or hiking, navigating the 6 feet socially distanced guidelines on a narrow trail can be a challenge. With a little practice, patience and following these tips, I hope to help ease your anxiety and encourage you to get out. These tips can easily be applied to other activities, too such as road running, biking, and into winter.
As a community, we need to practice these socially distanced techniques and also limit the amount of people to one outdoor area to avoid crowding and safety concerns. For a community and economy that is so rooted in the outdoors, it's imperative we do everything we can to keep these spaces open and welcoming to others.
1. Plan Ahead:
Since there are be more people getting outside as they should be doing, think about where you want to go and when. If it's a popular area - try and avoid it and go at a different day / time or somewhere else. For example, Mt. Philo on a Saturday afternoon will be busier on a nice day. It might be best to hike somewhere else, go earlier in the morning or at sunset (my new favorite time to hike). If the parking lot is full, go somewhere else. I like to say "leave the popular places to those who might not know where to go".
For ideas of where to go, check out our Explore Vermont Outdoor Resource Guide.
2. Respect the Area:
Respect the signs, land and leave no trace. Read up and follow any COVID-19 guidelines. Follow leash laws and pick up after your dog.
3. Skip the Risk:
Be smart and cautious of where you are going. Look at the terrain and weather to decrease your chances of having to require medical attention if an accident occurs. And finally, this is where I'll put in plug for the Skirack Run Center: make sure you have the right trail running or hiking shoes with proper tread for the terrain. Click here for tips on selecting trail shoes
4. How to Pass Someone or Get Passed:
- Pulling Off the Trail:
Follow standard trail etiquette and pull off the trail if you are going down, yielding to uphill hikers. However, if you are alone or a very small group, it is easier for you to move over for the larger group to pass by. Try to find a spot where you can actually get 6 feet off the trail. Also, it's good practice to turn your body and head away from who is passing you.
In Vermont, masks are mandated if you cannot maintain a 6 foot distance, even outside. So bring a mask and wear it when passing someone and there is not enough room to move over 6 feet from the trail. For more information on masks, click here.
- Be aware of your surroundings:
Take note of who is behind or ahead of you so you can safely pass them or get passed. This might be waiting, slowing down until it is safe to do so, or as mentioned already, wearing a mask.
- Communicate, be patient and NICE:
If you need someone to move over just ask nicely “mind if I scoot by?”. Don’t be rude or mean. This practice might not be new to you, but new to someone else.
Keep your dogs at your side and pull them off the trail as well. I have a dog and when I see someone on the trail, I take the initiative and pull to the side. My dog sits until you pass by.
5. Trail Running or Hiking with People Outside your Household:
Getting outside and maintaining a 6 foot distance with those outside of your household is possible to do on a hike. It's a great way to see your friends, get fresh air and exercise. Make sure you and your group follow the above tips and Vermont State guidelines.
Hopefully these tips for socially distanced trail running hiking will help and get you outside! Remember, just getting out is a WIN! Give yourself credit for being able to pull away from everything going on.
- Michelle Peters, Skirack Marketing