Growing up in Brooklyn, the parks (and our alleyway) was everything. Since we didn’t have a backyard, they provided a way to escape the city, explore, and just be near greenery.
And now with our quarantine/homeschool situation, they have also been a way for us to enjoy a mini dose of sunshine/nature while also checking out new trails that are right in our “backyard.” While the kids do miss playing on playground, I’m also finding that taking these nature walks/hikes has given them a new appreciation for nature. They love to collect rocks, find new paths, go uphill and downhill and just be outside. The simplicity of this all makes it this new normal a little more bearable and adds some adventure to our otherwise monotonous days.
As with anything with social distancing, there are certain guidelines to follow to ensure that everyone who is on the trails are safe.
This includes the following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/State Department of Health as noted on the New York State parks page.
- Stay home if you are sick, or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing;
- Practice social distancing by keeping at least six (6) feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors;
- Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives;
- Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available; and
- Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.
DEC and State Parks also encourage visitors to State Parks, State Lands, and other parks to:
- Stay local and keep visits short;
- Visit in small groups limited to immediate household members;
- Maintain distance from others while in places where people tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks;
- Avoid games and activities that require close contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer;
- Avoid playground equipment like slides and swings and other frequently touched surfaces;
- Do not share equipment, such as bicycles, helmets, balls, or Frisbees;
- If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, choose a different park, a different trail, or return another time/day to visit; and
- If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas. To protect your safety and that of others, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.
If you are sick or have had contact with someone who is sick in the last 14 days:
- Stay home; and spend time in the backyard or other personal outdoor space. Do not visit public outdoor spaces.
If you are over 70 or have a compromised immune system:
- Avoid visiting outdoor public spaces;
- Remain indoors or spend time in the backyard or other personal outdoor space;
- Pre-screen visitors by taking their temperature from a safe social distance; and
- Require visitors to wear masks, if available.
However, not everyone is following these guidelines, so the Westchester Parks Foundation is encouraging everyone to #StandUpfortheParks in their recent letter from Joseph Stout, Executive Director of the Westchester Parks Foundation to ensure that everyone respects social distancing so that parks can remain open for all.
We hope you enjoy the parks during this unsettling time just as much as we do. They have been a fantastic way to explore, soak in nature, and exercise. Here is a recap of 10 of our favorite hikes to inspire your next adventure.