Hiking and Social Distancing
Release Date: April 26, 2020
A Memo from Mayor Sarah Neibart
Like many of you, I spent the greater part of my day yesterday hiking our local trails. The brief window of beautiful weather had me very excited to get out there.
Unlike some of our neighboring communities, most of our trails and parks are currently open. We are extremely lucky in Mendham Township to have these incredible open spaces which make it so easy to get a dose of nature close to home.
A few weeks ago, the Governor closed all state and county parks and trails. This Executive Order closed Patriots Path, and the National Park Service closed Jockey Hollow National Park. Due to overcrowding and numerous incidents taking place, the Township was also forced to close Buttermilk Falls. Fortunately, though, we have several other parks and trails in Mendham Township that are open. Please click Hike Mendham for more information.
As the weather gets warmer, I want to encourage residents to get out and explore these natural gems in our community. If you haven’t hiked locally, I encourage you to try it. Most of the time, hiking can be a wonderful activity for social distancing. Hiking is great outdoor exercise and there are no high-touch surfaces.
However, because of the nature (pun intended) of narrow trails, navigation can be tricky when coming across another hiker. Communication and social distancing are crucial at this time. If you see another hiker on the trail, verbally communicate. When passing someone on a trail, one of you should responsibly step off the trail to keep 6 feet away from the other person. I know it can be difficult at times to conceptualize what 6 feet really is. I was reading a hiking blog the other day and came across the following examples which I know helped me:
The hiker going uphill is generally agreed to have right of way, as that requires more momentum; however, it is still important to communicate regardless of the situation. Also, if there are other hikers in front of you, try to maintain enough distance so that you do not need to pass them. If you need to pass someone, verbalize that you are passing on the left. Hiking in a single file line can help facilitate this.
This should go without saying - Our first responders are limited and exceptionally busy right now. If you intend to hit an open trail, please be careful and do not take unnecessary risks that could lead to a fall or injury. Being rescued requires a lot of personnel in close quarters, increasing the risk of transmission as well as pulling someone away from the front lines where they are desperately needed.
Also, if you or a loved one is sick or has been required to quarantine because of a recent exposure, please refrain from hiking the trails and being in public spaces. Wait and rest until you’re fully recovered before hitting the trails.
Finally, please do not throw or leave garbage on the trails.
Happy trails, and stay well!
Mayor, Mendham Township