It’s a challenging and unprecedented time we find ourselves in. Now that California’s “Safer at Home” mandate has changed the way we go about our daily lives, we’re feeling the pull to the freedom of the forest more than ever. As a result, the trails have become more popular than we’ve ever seen. So much so that both Los Angeles County and the U.S. Forest Service have both enacted trail closures and restrictions across some of our favorite riding zones.
Now, it’s important for us as a community of trail users to set a standard of safety and stewardship by which we can all be measured. We have a unique opportunity to help slow the spread of a global pandemic while continuing to be the responsible user group that we know we are.
It’s up to us to follow the guidelines set forth by local and federal agencies, avoid riding in potentially congested areas, keeping a minimum distance of 6 feet between us and others, and obeying trail closures and restrictions where applicable. What follows are MWBA’s recommendations for trail use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
STAY HOME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Exercise, being outdoors and engaging in the sport we all love is essential to our physical and mental health, but please consider staying home as much as possible until we’re beyond the end of this situation. Being cooped up at home for hours on end is no picnic, but neither is contracting and/or spreading the disease. If you must ride on trails, please keep rides short.
GIVE SOME ROOM
It’s a good rule of thumb to act as though everyone on the trail has the virus (including you!) Keeping a minimum safe distance of at least six feet is mandatory. If the trails you’re planning on riding make it such that you’re unable to give a six foot berth, you may want to reconsider riding that trail.
As long as trails in the Angeles National Forest aren’t closed, we’re expecting higher than normal trail traffic. Consider trading your trail ride for a fireoad or road spin for the time being. The added width will allow you to keep the minimum distance from other users. Be that groadie you know you can be.
TAKE IT EASY
Health care workers are spread thin and hospitals are busy. Injuries from riding put undue stress on health care systems that need all resources devoted to combating the virus. If you must ride on singletrack, now is not the time to tee up that gap jump, drop or rock garden you’ve been thinking about sending. Keep it mellow.
Avoid gathering in and participating in activities as a group. Being in a group increases the chance of virus transmission and also makes it more difficult for other trail users to keep their distance from you. Aim for as much solo activity as possible. Make sure you tell a trusted friend or loved one your planned route, share your location with them on your phone and provide them with an expected return time.
DON’T SHARE FOOD, WATER OR TOOLS
Now is not the time to share any of these things. Make sure your bottles or pack are topped off enough to keep you hydrated and fed for the duration of your adventure and make sure you’re self-sufficient in the event of a mechanical or flat (a good idea anytime!)
If you do choose to be on the trail, try to pick a time when you think there will be less trail traffic. Very early morning or night are usually good times to avoid the crush of the pedestrian trail users.
As of the time of this article, all LA County maintained trails, and other California State maintained trails have been closed along with all developed recreational sites in the Angeles National Forest. For updated information about these closures and restrictions check here and here.
“This is going to be tough for the foreseeable future, but if we can take the lead in the ensuring a safe trail experience now; we can help to mitigate the longer lasting effects this situation threatens to put on us all. It’s important to remember that this will eventually pass and the trails will be waiting for us on the other side of this challenging time.” – MWBA Board of Directors