Editor's Note: As of April 5, the Riverside County Public Heath Department has ordered Coachella Valley residents to stay at home. However, if you do go outside to wear a face covering.
As Coachella Valley residents adjust to the shelter-in-place guidelines now in effect throughout California, many residents are taking to local hiking trails to stay active and find peace of mind by connecting with nature. Friends of the Desert Mountains offers tips for outdoor recreation during the California shelter-in-place order.
During the COVID-19 outbreak access to many popular hiking areas has been limited, and crowded and narrow trails make it difficult to maintain social distancing of at least six feet. To help trail users stay connected with the outdoors while also contributing to the health of our community, follow these tips.
1. The community comes first. Hiking and other forms of outdoor recreation are currently allowed under the California shelter-in-place order, however check for updates before heading outside. The health of the community should be the first priority when choosing when, where, how, and if to recreate. Always follow the current federal, state, county, and local guidelines.
2. Be prepared. Check the weather before you leave, bring plenty of food and water, and stay on the trail. Stay home if there is rain, thunderstorms, or high temperatures in the forecast, and carry “The 10 Essentials” to be self-sufficient on the trail. Now is not the time to burden emergency responders with search and rescue calls.
3. Stay close to home. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the Coachella Valley, and this is a great time of year to explore almost all of them. Road trips, through hikes, and campouts have the potential to overwhelm the resources of the rural communities that service many national and state parks and should be avoided.
4. Avoid heavily used trails, like the Herb Jeffries (Bump & Grind), Homestead (The Cross), or the Lykken trails. The sheer number of people on many of these trails makes keeping at least six feet distance from other hikers difficult or impossible. Take this opportunity to seek out different options that are less crowded or are wide enough to accommodate more people. Use your best judgement when you arrive at any trail. If the parking is full, consider changing your plans to hike elsewhere or during a different time of day.
The Coachella Valley trails showcase the amazing diversity of landscapes, plants and animals, and outdoor experiences that the desert has to offer. Now more than ever it is important to stay safe while you discover the outdoors.
For more information on hiking tips from Friends of the Desert Mountains, including the 10 essentials, and recommended trails visit DesertMountains.org, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.