News & Updates

Mask Etiquette on the Trail

Brice - March 2, 2021

Our trails and pathways are a shared resource, places where everyone should be able to enjoy nature safely. During the last year though, the meaning of that has changed. Masks have become an important safety tool on our trails. Here are some tips for using them on your next outing. 

Start by researching the local area’s guidance. Mask requirements can differ depending on the area you are in. Plan ahead and prepare by looking up not just the mask requirements, but all the Covid-19 guidance for the area you are getting outside. 

Even if masks are not required in the area, it is important to wear them when getting within six feet of those outside your household. Keep a mask handy so you can quickly cover your nose and mouth when passing others on the trail. If the area you are in is crowded, it is a good idea to keep your mask on throughout your trip. 

When using masks, it is important to make sure they do not end up as litter. Take special care when taking them in and out of pockets. A mask dropped accidentally winds up as trash.

Physical distancing is another safety tool at our disposal. By keeping a distance of six feet between ourselves and those outside our household, we can minimize the risk of spreading Covid-19. Most trails though, are not six feet wide. Physical distancing requires the use of durable surfaces. 

Look for a durable surface to step off the trail. Wait and provide space for others to pass. Durable surfaces include patches of bare dirt, rocks or gravel, leaf litter, or even pine duff. Avoid fragile vegetation or rocks with lichen and moss growing on them. They can be easily damaged. 

These trail etiquette interactions should all be handled with in-the-moment communication. The ultimate goal is keeping other users safe and minimizing vegetation impacts from off trail travel. Where pets are involved, keeping them on leash will allow for safer yielding or passing. 

The outdoors don’t belong to any one person or group; they belong to us all. By being kind and considerate to other visitors, we can share these special places in a way that keeps us all safe and protects the trails we love. 

By the Subaru/Leave No Trace Teams. For over 20 years these teams have provided tangible solutions to serious issues facing our outside space and reach over 15 million people every year. Learn more about the important work of our mobile education teams.  Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Thule, Fjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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