Challenging times, these. Fortunately, we possess a secret weapon in our efforts to remain healthy and sane.
You’re familiar with hiking’s already well-established bona fides, from relieving stress to maintaining a healthy heart and weight, to boosting your immune system. If ever there were a time when we needed to maintain our physical and mental well-being, this is it.
The good news? While the world closes around us, our trails remain open. Here’s a quick look at the places we love to explore and their current status.
Caveat One: we italicize “current status” because the situation is fluid. Before heading out for a hike, check the link to make sure your trail remains accessible.
Caveat Two: If you’re planning to hike a popular venue, consider hiking a segment of that venue that’s less visited in order to observe social distancing. (We list several examples in a blog written earlier today for Great Outdoor Provision Co.; find it here.)
North Carolina State Parks. Visitor centers and campgrounds at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas are closed; trails and restrooms remain open. Updates available here.
Virginia State Parks: As of Tuesday, Virginia closed the visitor centers in its parks, but trails, campgrounds and cabins remain open. Updates available here.
National Park Service. Several parks on the West Coast are closed, as are some in New York. Here’s the status of key parks in our region:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As of Wednesday, March 18 at noon: “Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove Visitor Centers are closed until further notice. At this time, seasonally open park campgrounds, picnic areas, roads, trails, and restroom facilities located adjacent to Visitor Center remain open.”
- Blue Ridge Parkway. The Visitor Center at Milepost 384 near Asheville is closed, the parkway and trails off of it are open.
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Visitor Centers and campgrounds are closed.
- Cape Lookout National Seashore. No closures reported.
- Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. “… open including entrance stations, trails, and restrooms. Other facilities are still closed for the season with the exception of Byrd Visitor which will not open for weekends as planned.”
Updates available here.
National Forests. No closures are reported for the Croatan, Nantahala, Pisgah or Uwharrie national forests in North Carolina, nor in the George Washington or Jefferson forests in Virginia.
Land Trusts. Increasingly, we find ourselves on properties saved by land trusts throughout the region. It appears that, overall, land trusts are leaving their trails open, but canceling all in-person programs and guided hikes. Before heading out though, check to make sure your favorite land trust trail is open. Find links for regional land trusts here.
Municipal and country parks. Likewise, county and municipal park systems have suspended programs and group activities, and closed rec centers, but trails and greenways under their domain remain open. Your best bet for checking the status of your local parks and recs: Google [Town/County Name] parks and rec.
If you do venture out for a hike, remember:
- Not to touch fellow hikers (such as shake hands or hug)
- Not to get within 6 feet of a fellow hiker
- Not to share food, water or gear with a fellow hiker
All that said, have a great hike!