Hiking trails are open in Canada and here's what you need to know before you go
Hiking trails in Canada have reopened in provincial parks and will soon begin to reopen in some national parks as well, which is great news for everyone in need of a little fresh air.
Though hiking has been deemed an acceptable outdoor activity amid the ongoing outbreak, it's not free from risks. Those who venture outdoors should still take necessary precautions in order to be safe and responsible.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to go hiking in Canada right now.
With ongoing bans on non-essential travel and many provincial borders closed off to non-residents, Canadians should stay in local areas and only use parks and trails that are close to home.
If you travel to rural areas to visit a trail, avoid using local health providers except for emergencies so you don't exhaust the resources in smaller communities.
Get an early start in the morning and be prepared if you have to change your destination if the parking lot or trailhead seems busy when you arrive.
Planning your trip accordingly will also ensure you won't have to make any unnecessary stops for gas or food.
Also, be sure to check the applicable park page of the location you plan to visit before heading out so you're up-to-date on the trail information and guidelines.
It's important to maintain physical distance, even when you're outdoors, by keeping six feet away from other hikers, moving aside to allow others to safely pass and only hiking with members of your household.
New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are exceptions. These provinces now allow residents to gather with up to 10 individuals from different households if it’s an outdoor gathering. Hikers should follow the physical distancing requirements set out by their Provincial Health Officer.
Also pay attention to additional physical distancing measures in place at the trail you’re visiting. Some narrow trails that don’t allow for proper distancing have implemented one-directional hiking. This is the case in parts of Fundy Trail Parkway and the Apex Trail in Kelowna, BC.
Check the applicable park page of where you'll be hiking so that you're aware of the facilities that are currently open and respect these closures.
Open washroom facilities on trails remain limited in most provinces and are still closed for the time being in Quebec and Alberta.
Playgrounds and picnic areas are reopened at parks in Manitoba, while they remain closed in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and are reopening on a case-by-case basis in other provinces such as British Columbia.
Park operators in Canada recommend bringing your own hand sanitizer and wipes so that you can disinfect picnic tables before use. It's also good practice to bring along a cloth face mask for when you're near others.
Bringing your own food and water will also be important as water taps and concession buildings will still be closed in most provinces, except for in British Columbia where concession buildings may be open depending on the park.
BC Search and Rescue recommends that those who venture for a hike during the pandemic should take extra safety measures such as sticking to trails that you're familiar with and giving yourself lots of time to ensure you can get back before it gets dark.
Challenging hikes and climbs should also be avoided right now, so that already stretched emergency responders aren't required to do any more call-outs than are necessary.
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