Governor Inslee announced State Lands will re-open to recreational day use on May 5th. State parks along with boat ramps, recreational hunting, and fishing will also be re-opened. We couldn’t be more excited to get outside beyond our neighborhoods, but also recognize this doesn’t mean things are back to normal and we should proceed like it’s May 2019.
The reopening will apply to state-managed parks, wildlife areas, recreation land, boat launches and natural areas. Camping (including dispersed camping) and other overnight accommodations will remain closed. Federal lands are not impacted by this order, so please check with the land management agency for their current status.
There may also be local closures due to staffing limitations, local conditions, etc. Please check with the appropriate land management agency before you go (and make a back-up option or two or three in case your first choice is too busy). Each state agency will have updates on their website:
Department of Natural Resources
Department of Fish & Wildlife
Not sure who manages the land you’re visiting? Washington Trails Association includes the land manager information on their hike profiles, so that’s a helpful resource, if you can find your hike—or a hike near your destination.
The Coalition is also working with WTA, land managers and other stakeholders to help balance recreation with public health and have some advice how to recreation responsibly to keep everyone safe and keep public lands open.
- Physical distancing is key. This remains the main way to avoid transmission of the virus. It’s important to be able to maintain 6+ feet between you and other hikers for the majority of your outing. If you can’t, pick another trail. And right now, stick to recreating with just the folks in your household.
- Passing on trail. Even given these considerations, you’ll likely run into other folks on trail. If you do, do your best to maintain physical distance. Determine who will step aside (generally, hikers coming uphill have right of way) and give each other a wide berth. And bring a mask and put it on while you pass.
- Bathroom breaks: BYO-Everything. For now, assume all trailhead facilities will be closed. Take care of business before you arrive, bring your own toilet paper and brush up on how to poop in the woods. And remember to pack it out—toilet paper doesn’t decompose quickly outside.
- Stay local. This reopening applies to day-use of state lands only. Campgrounds and other facilities will remain closed. Stick to parks you can access in a day trip, and remember to keep rural communities safe. While we often encourage hikers to shop local and contribute to the recreation economy in rural communities, doing so right now could deplete the resources of smaller communities.
- Be extra cautious. We don’t want you to get hurt. Our search and rescue agencies’ and land managers’ resources to manage this outbreak are already strained as well. So any risks that might mean you need rescue or health care could further strain those resources. Please choose your outing with this in mind.
For more helpful information about hiking in the time of Coronavirus visit WTA’s website.