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The Ultimate #OptOutside Guide During COVID-19
Lifestyle

The Ultimate #OptOutside Guide During COVID-19

Explaining the where, how & etiquette while social distancing.

Now that we’re all in a stay-at-home order in Philadelphia, we’re required to stay inside except for essential trips like buying food, reporting to an essential job or seeking medical attention.

However, there is one exception to the rule: for those feeling isolated, you can get outside to exercise. (San Francisco has a similar exclusion, just with a lot more glorious hiking.)

After all, time in nature is scientifically beneficial: it lowers our blood pressure and stress levels, and puts us in a better mood.

Opt outside & calm yourself with nature during the coronavirus. Just keep these rules in mind.

If you’re going for a walk around the neighborhood, proceed per usual. But if you’re heading to a local park or trail, here are a few tips, inspired by Backcountry & Renee Roaming.

For one, avoid busy trails and popular areas. (This likely includes Schuylkill River Drive and the Wissahickon, even the back trails.) If you see a packed parking lot, turn around and go elsewhere.

Although we highly encourage you to explore new trails throughout the year, avoid traveling and taking road trips! This is to avoid rest stops (aka getting in contact with people) and also to limit risk in small mountain towns. You don’t want to overwhelm another city’s medical facilities, especially as more people test postive for COVID-19.

Only plan hikes with people you currently live with during quarantine. If you’re already predisposed to the person, great! This isn’t the time to form a new hiking group.

Lastly, only pursue activities within your physical and mental ability. Don’t risk injuries or rely on emergency services during this time.

Expect restroom and facility closures. Pack a snack ahead of time, don’t leave any waste behind (human or otherwise) and plan shorter visits so you can head home before and after your outdoor fix.

Where to go outside in Philadelphia during COVID-19

Looking to get outdoors? Here are a few spots.

MLK Drive: Thanks to the Bicycle Coalition (who filed a petition last week), MLK Jr. Drive is closed to cars during the quarantine.

Delaware State Parks: Open for trails, but buildings are closed. Delaware beaches are closed. Check DE State Parks for updates.

NJ State Parks: Open for passive recreation (walking, biking, and hiking) with social distancing. Restrooms, offices, camping facilities & other buildings are closed. Check the NJ DEP website for more info.

Pennsylvania State Parks & Forests: State park trails and roads are open for hiking and more. Check the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the latest updates.

Wissahickon Valley Park is open but quite busy on the weekends… which leads us to issue some trail etiquette reminders (keep scrolling!).

Water Wonders: Trails, Nature Centers and Activities

Check out these places to explore from the Delaware Estuary website:

Trail etiquette explained

For those who may be new to exploring outdoors, there are a few unofficial and unspoken rules to follow. Keep these in mind to be considerate of your fellow park-goers and respectful of nature.

  • Observe social distancing, even while outside. Stay at least 6′ away from other people.
courtesy of National Recreation and Parks Association
  • Stick to one side on the trails. If you’re going outside with your fellow quarantined house units, make sure to stay on the right side of the trail. If you’re passing another person or small group, observe single-file to allow more space for passing.
  • If there’s room, step to the side to allow people to pass.
  • Leave NO Trace. According to the Leave No Trace ethics, you should plan ahead, leave what you find, respect wildlife and dispose of waste properly. Don’t drop your trash, organic or not. Find more COVID-19 tips on Leave No Trace’s official website.
  • Keep phone conversations at a reasonable level and don’t use your speaker!

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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