We Coloradans love our outdoors. And with COVID-19 throwing life as we know it for a loop, going outside has been the key to maintaining health, sanity and a semblance of life before the pandemic for many of us. Fortunately, the ability to recreate outdoors has remained an essential activity under statewide stay-at-home orders. But while we take advantage of our trails and open spaces, it is vital to stay safe and healthy—for ourselves and for the people around us.
With that in mind, the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) has launched the #getoutspreadout campaign, mapping out locations of trails, parks and open spaces across the city that Springs residents can explore responsibly. The big takeaway? Stay close to home. Doing so helps limit overcrowding at popular trailheads and the possible transmission of COVID-19. But it can also bring a new opportunity to explore our own neighborhoods, says Susan Davies, TOSC executive director.
“The whole goal of this project is to give people new choices, new safe options,” Davies says. “And then the serendipitous piece of it all is that you’re going to learn some new places. You’re going to learn that there might be a park a half mile or a mile away from where you live that you didn’t even know existed.”
TOSC has created an interactive map on its website including about 40 routes, parks, trails and open spaces for hiking, biking, dog walking and just getting outside. You can also find trail videos on the TOSC Facebook page.
Why not head into the mountains? Recreating farther from home can strain rural and gateway communities and risk transmission of the coronavirus. Getting injured in the backcountry or far from civilization can also strain hospital, search and rescue and EMS services. So stay close to home and explore some new places in your backyard.
When you do head out, here are some important tips to follow.
Social distancing still applies. At all times, maintain at least 6 feet of separation between yourself and others not in your family unit. If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, do not use trails, parks and open spaces.
Communicate. Trails may be narrow, so make sure to talk to other hikers, bikers or other trail users before you pass to best maintain a 6-foot distance. This may require carefully stepping off the trail.
Be prepared. Playgrounds, pavilions and gathering areas, such as picnic pavilions and nature centers, at city and country parks are closed. Restrooms and water fountains may be closed. Even if open, refrain from using water fountains. Bring your own water instead.
Leave no trace. Leave No Trace principles still apply. Help protect park workers by not leaving any trash.
Turn around. “If you get to a parking lot, and it’s full, don’t park there. Go find another one,” Davies says. “You’ve got lots of choices. And that’s the great thing about Colorado Springs: We have lots of choices.”
Stay informed. Be responsible. You can find more guidelines on social distancing outside from Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services; El Paso County Parks; and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Help keep our outdoor spaces open by spreading out and staying in if you’re sick.
Trails to Try for Social Distancing
Here are a few recommendations from TOSC for getting out and spreading out. Find more at trailsandopenspaces.org.
Sinton Trail: The wide paved path into the northwest side of Colorado Springs has a large parking lot and small pond. Perfect for walks with young children.
Legacy Loop: At just under 10 miles, you’ll get to take in downtown Colorado Springs and creekside views. A great bike ride around the city’s center.
Palmer Park: If you’r an early riser, you can still get your dose of popular Palmer Park by going early and hiking the quieter northeast side on the Templeton Trail.
Non-trail Options: If trails aren’t your style, tickets can still be purchased online to drive to the top of Pikes Peak. Tee times are also available to reserve online for the city’s municipal golf courses: Patty Jewett and Valley Hi. Note that COVID-19 restrictions are in place.