When hiking, find the hidden gems

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 10:30am

    The current COVID-19 epidemic has put a strain on people throughout the world. The crisis has forced sudden changes in our daily lives including work closures, remote working, homeschooling, and social distancing. For many, these circumstances, along with the alarming daily news reports, are a source of great stress and anxiety. Maintaining physical and mental health during these trying times is essential, and Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) is here to help. BRLT offers a wide variety of public preserves, free of charge, that enable our community to get outside, get exercise, re-center, and de-stress. It is the goal of BRLT to keep its preserves open to the public for the duration of this crisis; however, this will only be possible with the cooperation and support of our visitors.

    Across the state, public parks and beaches are being forced to close due to overcrowding. With an inability to ensure public safety and the mandated social distancing necessary for public health, unfortunately many locations have no choice but to prohibit public access. At Boothbay Region Land Trust, we are hopeful that such extreme measures will not be necessary. In order to maintain open access, we must ensure that visitors are practicing proper social distancing on the trails, and that locations are not being overused. While many of us enjoy BRLT’s iconic preserves including Ovens Mouth, Oak Point Farm, and Porter Preserve, it is essential that these locations not become overcrowded and unsafe. With a great variety of short, rejuvenating hikes to choose from, we urge the public to find the hidden gems by fanning out across our preserves and exploring some of the less frequented treasures in our region. From Boothbay Center, there are over a dozen trails to choose within a 12-mile radius—many of which continue to have open lots even on weekends.

    Hikers should consider a preserve at maximum capacity when the available parking at the kiosk is full. Please note that for the safety of all visitors, street parking at BRLT preserves is prohibited. If you arrive at a location and the available parking lot is full, please depart this location. For larger parking lots such as Oak Point Farm, please use good judgment and limit the number of cars in the lot. We recommend having a plan B in case your first choice preserve is unavailable. Hiking during off-peak times is also recommended, especially for more popular locations that might fill quickly (note: weekends tend to be especially busy). All BRLT trail maps are available at bbrlt.org and most of preserves are within a short drive of alternate hiking options. You may just find a new favorite walk in the process!

    While hiking, BRLT also asks that visitors adhere to the following guidelines for the safety of all:

    –Refrain from using trails if you are exhibiting symptoms of illness.

    –Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene, including hand washing or sanitizing prior to, during, and after use of trails.

    –While on trails, warn other users of your presence. As you pass, step aside, or step off the trail if needed, to let others pass. Observe CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of 6 feet from other individuals at all times.

    –Do not use the preserves as a place to meet up with friends for social gatherings including outdoor picnicking, sports, etc.

    –Do not pet other people’s dogs while on the trails and please respect the private property of neighboring landowners.

    Together we can all continue to enjoy our natural resources and benefit from the open air, outdoor recreation, and scenic beauty that BRLT trails offer.