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How to Enjoy the Great Maine Outdoors in the Era of COVID-19

Find a quiet trail near you — and follow these 10 tips for staying healthy.

Nature Walk, Lubec, Maine
A nature walk in Lubec
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Open space and the warm sun have never felt like such good medicine as in these challenging and housebound times. Although many southern Maine and midcoast state parks are closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s nature preserves remain open for enjoyment up and down the coast. To find some fresh salt air near you, visit mcht.org — and take these simple precautions to protect your health and everyone else’s.

Know before you go. Check trail managers’ websites to get the most current information on closures and conditions. The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands updates the status of state parks, and Maine Trail Finder is tracking trail closures around the state.

Plan for self-service. Facilities like public restrooms and info centers are closed in many recreational areas, including Acadia National Park. Wherever you’re headed, pack your own snacks and water and plan trips so that you can minimize pit stops along the way.

If you’re sick, stay home. Whether hitting a trail or a grocery aisle, if you’re exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or you’ve recently been exposed to the virus, you’re putting others at risk. Hang up the hiking boots until you get the all clear from a medical professional.

Recharge in your backyard. Spring means there’s plenty to explore right outside your doorstep: listen to backyard birdsongs, scout for signs of wildlife activity, and admire crocuses, daffodils, and other freshly blossomed flowers.

MCHT nature hike

Practice social distancing. Stay at least six feet away from anyone who isn’t part of your household. If necessary, step aside to let others pass on the trail. And remember that Governor Janet Mills has prohibited gathering in groups of more than 10.

Have a plan B. If the parking lot is crowded, you’re probably not going to be able to maintain the physical distance that health officials recommend — and you definitely won’t find the tranquil outdoorsy experience you crave. Have a back-up trailhead in mind before you leave home.

Skip peak hours. Head out before or after everyone else, taking advantage of the earlier sunrises and later sunsets this time of year.

Take the easy way out. Stick to gentle terrain to miniminze any risk of injury. And since trails are likely to be slippery this time of year, wear shoes with good grip. You don’t want to give first responders and health-care professionals any more work than they already have.

Stay hands-free. Avoid touching signs, kiosks, buildings, and benches to limit the potential spread of the virus.

Keep it moving. When you arrive at natural stopping points — waterfalls, summits, ledges — avoid lingering, so that everyone can enjoy the views while keeping a safe distance.

To learn more, go to mcht.org.