MAINE, USA — Amid the coronavirus pandemic, more Mainers are hitting the trails. Hiking is one of the few outdoor activities still allowed under Gov. Janet Mills stay at home order.
Activities like fishing, hunting, trapping, boating, canoeing, and kayaking are allowed, but Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife communications director Mark Latti says, "one that has really peaked a lot of people's interest is hiking because everyone can do it."
Hiking in Maine in many parts of the state can be a challenge this time of year can be a challenge because of lingering snow and thick mud, however, Mainers are still making it out.
"It's become one of the only areas where people, outside of maybe walking their street or their yard can get out and enjoy nature and peacefulness," said Russ Grady, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust board of directors president.
Grady says he's seen a major boom in visitors to the roughly 2200 acres of conservation land, however, he hasn't seen social distancing be a problem.
"At first I think we like many others, we were a little concerned when we saw so many vehicles, said Grady. "But it didn't take long really to get out in the woods and see that encounters and interaction with people were few and far between."
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For some avid hikers in Maine, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges. Tina Plummer has been planning to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, and just days before she was about to depart, was told by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to consider postponing her trip.
"That's what's always made me happy, and feel invigorated and it clears my head mentally, so I got back out and started hiking again as much as I could locally," said Plummer.
She's been hiking every weekend, and often during the week too, in areas around her home. Plummer says she's seen many more hikers out on trails but hikers have been practicing social distancing, even stepping off trails to allow 6 ft of distance while passing.
Despite hikers practicing social distancing, overcrowding is something the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is still monitoring.
"We always ask people to not only have plans A, B, and C, so if you go to a trial ahead and see too many cars there, you can go somewhere else," said Latti.
Many public parks, beaches and other areas have been closed already due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MDIFW has not closed any wildlife managements, which are allowed for hiking.
Here's a running list of popular areas closed during coronavirus outbreak.
- Reid State Park
- Popham Beach State Park
- Fort Popham
- Fort Baldwin
- Kettle Cove State Park
- Two Lights State Park
- Crescent Beach State Park
- Scarborough Beach State Park
- Ferry Beach State Park
- Mackworth Island
To find parks and trails that are still open, MDIFW suggests using these resources:
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.newscentermaine.com/coronavirus.