COVID-19 social distancing orders and business closures have led many mid-Hudson Valley residents to the scenic hikes and trails the area has to offer. However, because of the high density of people enjoying the outdoors, some trails are beginning to close.
Currently, according to the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 12 Hudson Highlands state parks have been closed until further notice. Among the closures include Mount Beacon parking area and trail, Breakneck Ridge, Wilkinson Trailhead, Notch Trail and Fishkill Ridge in Dutchess County and the Washburn Parking Lot, Little Stony Point Trails, and Brook Trail in Putnam County.
“Due to the physical topography of the Hudson Highlands and the narrow roads that line the approaches to these congested trailheads, hikers are unable to practice appropriate social distancing,” according to the State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website. “The numbers of cars and pedestrians walking along the high-speed state road is creating a dangerous situation.”
Despite some of the park closures, many New York State grounds, forests and trails have remained open. However, the state is still encouraging New Yorkers to stay home and participate in responsible recreation
“If you do plan on visiting, visit parks close to home, avoid crowded areas and wear face coverings where you cannot maintain safe social distance,” the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation advised.
On March 28, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation launched the hashtag #RecreateLocal, to encourage New Yorkers to responsibly enjoy the outdoors during the pandemic.
“New Yorkers are turning to our parks for exercise, stress relief and a healthy nature break in these difficult times,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid in a press release. “To keep these places safe and healthy for everyone, we need to adjust the ways we enjoy our parks. Keep visits short and local, avoid crowds and practice physical social distancing.”
Additionally, other state parks that have not temporarily closed have been closing early after reaching maximum capacity.
On Sunday, May 3, Minnewaska State Park in Ulster County closed to incoming visitors and traffic at 9:10 a.m., prohibiting roadside parking.
Scenic Hudson, an environmental organization “credited with launching the modern grassroots environmental movement,” has been issuing COVID-19 updates for hikers in the Hudson Valley.
The latest update from Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan on Tuesday, April 21 advised people to wear masks on trails where they cannot maintain social distancing guidelines, avoid parks where crowds are forming and to avoid parking along roadsides or other undesignated areas when parking lots are full.
“Remember, your assistance is crucial in our ability to maintain and keep open our parks. Thank you for your cooperation,” Sullivan said in the update.