We here at American Hiking Society know that this is a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for many as we all navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that being outside, as long as you practice social distancing and follow government guidelines in your area, is still a very safe and healthy place to be. We recommend a daily walk or run in your neighborhood, or even a hike farther afield if you can. Getting some fresh air and exercise will buoy your immune system and your emotional health.
The safety and wellbeing of our AHS family is a top priority while we are all navigating these unchartered waters. AHS has tailored our internal operations to ensure our advocacy work continues to protect trails and public lands and promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the outdoors – the issues that we all are dedicated to. We very much appreciate your continued support.
Heeding the advice of the CDC regarding group gatherings, on Monday, we canceled Alternative Break and Volunteer Vacations trips that are scheduled to occur between March 16 and May 10. While the trail work itself might not be close quarters, the communal meals and housing are, as is the travel to get there. As an organization that fully understands the mental and physical benefits of being outside, volunteering, and disconnecting for a little while, we are so sorry these trips will not proceed as scheduled. But we want to allow for social distancing, prevent unnecessary travel, and do what we can to protect our volunteers, hosts and crew leaders, and the outdoor community.
Please consider signing up for a Volunteer Vacation that starts after May 10, making a donation to your local trail organization, and supporting the work of American Hiking Society through your membership or donation.
A few tips to help out all our fellow hikers:
- Lean on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) for the most reliable, science-based, and up-to-date information about COVID-19. They update their webpages frequently.
- Check The Trek for park closures that may affect trails.
- For cancelations of events and closures that are related to the National Trail System, see the Partnership for the National Trail System website.
- Try to get outside for at least 10 minutes every day, even if it’s just for a couple of laps around the block or playing with your kids.
- If you do decide to travel to a trail for a hike or go to your local park, please practice social distancing, vigilant handwashing, and avoiding touching your face.
- Please avoid trails or parks that have become crowded. In such conditions, it is not possible to practice proper social distancing, and it puts extra wear and tear on the park and trails.
- Please also avoid playgrounds and other play spaces where people gather — the virus can live on many surfaces for days, so even an empty playground should probably be avoided for now.
- If you are at all sick, please do not go outside — it is not worth risking getting others sick with whom you may inadvertently come in contact.
- Visit our Facebook page for a weekly photo contest. We want to see you enjoying the fresh air!
Stay safe and healthy, and we’ll see you outside.
All the best,
Kate Van Waes (Executive Director) and the AHS Staff