During this time of social distancing, many people are starting to experience cabin fever. Getting out of the house and into nature can be great for clearing our heads and dealing with anxiety over the current situation. However, some may be wondering exactly what types of outdoor activities are okay beyond hanging out in our backyards. While hiking may seem like the perfect answer to this quandary, there are certainly some things to keep in mind if that’s your plan. Here are a few tips for those who need to escape the confines of their home and reconnect with nature.

Hike Local

There are a good number of travel restrictions in many states right now and for a good reason. Even if you currently don’t feel ill, that doesn’t mean you can’t still be spreading the virus. Remember, it typically takes 14 days to begin showing symptoms. 

The situation being what it currently is, it’s wisest to stay closer to home for your outdoor adventures. Traveling during this period is endangering those you come into contact with as well as yourself. If your plans involve traveling anywhere that you’d have to stop for gas, use a public restroom, or pick up supplies – avoid it. The American Hiking Society is recommending going no more than 50 miles from home. Risking potential exposure is irresponsible and completely unnecessary. 

Keep Trails Easy

While we all hope there’s never an emergency while we’re out hiking, there’s always the potential for an accident to occur. The more difficult the trail, the more likely you are to experience an injury. Hospitals and ERs are already experiencing a shortage of staff and equipment. Not only that, but there’s also the chance you could be exposed to the virus if you have to seek medical attention for an injury. Do what you can to protect yourself and consider potential consequences when deciding to venture out.

Maintain Social (Physical) Distancing

As it isn’t ever advisable to go hiking alone, keep in mind that you should only be going with those in your family or those in your household. Even while hiking, we need to maintain social (physical) distancing protocols to ensure the safety of everyone on the trails. While you’re out, remember not to touch your face. If you cough or sneeze, make sure you do so into your elbow rather than your hands, and when you return home from being outdoors, make sure to wash your hands. 

Avoid Popular Trails

At this time, many people are doing whatever they can to get outdoors and remain active. There have been several park closings due to overcrowded conditions because too many people show up at once. The more people in the area you are hiking, the more likely you are to run into them on the trail. Some trails aren’t wide enough to pass with a six-foot clearance between hiking parties. Avoid popular outdoor areas if you plan to go for a hike to minimize the potential for exposure. Make sure to check with parks in advance of heading out since there are a number that have closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

It’s good to get outdoors and be active during this period of isolation. Just remember to take precautions when you do go out. While it may seem inconvenient, it is essential to follow federal, state, and local guidelines when it comes to slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. 

Article originally published on MatthewPesner.org