**COVID-19 Exclusive: Guidlines For Hiking In The Time of Social Distancing
We know that this whole Social Distancing and Quarantine situation has been ‘ruff,’ and we totally get that you and your pup might be yearning to get after some physical activity and vitamin D! Hiking seems like a good option, right?
Plenty of cities have closed all green spaces and trailheads as people have flocked to them, so please remember to follow those mandates if this has happened in your city.
However, if you live in an area with unrestricted access to green spaces, and wish to hit the trails with your pup, please remember some crucial social distancing guidelines to remain safe.
- Go During Off-Peak Hours
- Work Day Hours: during hours when people are working from home, there may be fewer people on the trail
- Pick An Appropriate Hike
- Pick a trail that is wide, and has plenty of room for passing other hikers at a safe distance (at least 6ft)
- Wear A Mask
- Protect yourself and others, don’t be irresponsible.
- Bring Wipes and Hand Sanitizer
- Remember to follow the same guidelines as in hand washing (20 seconds)
- Don’t Feel Bad About Turning Around
- If you get to your destination and find that the trail looks too crowded, don’t be feel bad about taking a rain-check and going another, less-crowded time, or to another trail.
General Guidelines for a Great Hike
Consider Time of Day
Avoid crepuscular hours (Dawn and Dusk) as this is when animals like coyotes and mountain lions are most likely to hunt. Avoid hottest times of day, and avoid busy hours.
Know Before You Go
Research your route ahead of time. Even if you and your pup like to follow your instincts and noses, it’s a stellar idea to take a peak at your route before hitting the trail. Take a gander on Google Maps to check for things like:
- Difficult Terrain (cliffs, escarpments)
- Shady Rest Areas
- Points of Interest
Get To Know Local Hazards
Familiarize yourself with any potential hazards like flora and fauna that could be dangerous to you and your furry pal. Research what types of dangerous animals could be in the area, how to avoid them, and what to do should you encounter them. State Park websites have great resources to help you identify potential natural dangers in your area. Hop on here to find your local state park and get info on wild dangers you may encounter (for example, here’s California’s).
Depending on your region, such animals might include anything from snakes, coyotes, bears, scorpions, and more. Wild animals pose a more obvious danger to hikers, but don’t forget about plants that could pose a threat to you or your pup. Research what sort of toxic plants can grow in your region (poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, nettle, cacti, etc.) and familiarize yourself with what they look like, and what to do if you encounter them. Some plants, like cacti and foxtail grasses may not pose a toxic threat, but can pose a very real physical threat to your pup.
Foxtail grasses in particular, are those with seeds like the ones pictured below. They are found mostly on the West Coast, but have migrated all over North America. The nasty little devils can lodge into a pup’s nose, eyes, mouth, ears, and skin, and cause serious problems as their shape allows them to migrate forward into the body with ease. Always check your pup for these after you have been anywhere where these plants may grow. To learn more about foxtail plants, read this.
Booties, dog socks, and specially designed hoods like the Out Fox Field Guard, are super helpful tools to have around if you live in area where these plants grow.
Important Supplies For Every Hike
- Water for both you and Pup
- Water Bowl
- High-Protein Snacks for Both of You (Frozen Grocery Pup, cut up into cubes is an awesome snack for your pupper!)
- Boots or Grip Socks for Pup
- Poop Bags
- A Bag and Gloves to Safely Pick Up Garbage
- Emergency First Aid Kit
- Bandanna (great to soak with water for cooling down, but also efficient emergency tourniquet to stop bleeding)
- Emergency Carrying Sling (for larger dogs)
- Foxtail Guard
Remember to leave nature as it should be, without human interference. Please consider picking up trash as you hike.