Coronavirus Update: Hike Local

Hey everyone, thanks for checking in. I hope everyone is enjoying good health, and perhaps getting outside a bit. I want to share with you an email that I got from the Forest Society about overcrowding at the more popular recreation sites. In short, “hike local” — that is to say, please avoid places like Mt Major, Monadnock, and the other really well known areas. Instead, choose somewhere much less visited, likely closer to home. And of course, if the parking area is at or near capacity, head off to somewhere that you can enjoy more solitude. And regrettably, if that means scrapping your outdoor hiking plans for the day, so be it.

The cool thing about the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, the NH Audubon Society, and others, is that they collectively have hundreds of places dotted throughout the state that are under some kind of environmental protection, and have trails and so on for us to recharge our batteries. In other words, Mt Major, Monadnock, and the other well known sites aren’t the last word on the marvels of the granite state.

The national attention is laser focused on Coronavirus, and that’s not without its merits. But daily life grinds on. The planet still spins on its axis and orbits the sun. The laundry still needs doing. Please don’t forget that you need to be fastening your seatbelts when driving. What I want people to remember is that we’re not just affected by the hot issue of the day, including social distancing and so on, but also the mundane background stuff, like trail erosion, and the usual other perils that arise when thousands of enthusiastic humans descend on the great outdoors. Not the least, mud season is upon us. Walking around mud puddles is still as destructive to the environment today as it was last year when none of us could even spell Coronavirus.

If you can’t read the Forest Society’s message at the link above, I’ve reprinted it below.


Dear Friends,

I write to ask you all a favor. I ask you to help us convince people to hike local during our prolonged march through the Covid-19 outbreak. As you may have seen in the mainstream media or on social media, people are flocking outdoors during this stay-at-home period. This is not just a local phenomenon, it’s national.

However, too many people are heading to too few places. Our most popular Forest Reservations, such as Mount Major in Alton (80,000 a year hike this modest mountain in the Belknaps), are arguably overwhelmed with people during a period when we all understand that our collective health depends on avoiding crowds.

It need not be this way. The Forest Society owns and manages 190 Forest Reservations in more than 100 towns across the state, all open to the public. Our partners and colleagues at NH Audubon and the Nature Conservancy make their lands open to the public as well. Land trusts such as the Southeast Land Trust, Lakes Region Conservation Trust, Monadnock Conservancy and others offer local trails to walk.

Outdoor recreation opportunities are abundant in New Hampshire; it’s among the reasons many of us live here. There is room in the woods.

Forest Society members can help address the problems posed by overcrowding at specific trail heads. I would ask you to share with your networks a link to our online Forest Reservation guide (forestsociety.org/reservation-guide). And the links to the websites of our partners. Encourage everyone to leave the most popular destinations for another day and instead discover and explore places close to home.

At the Forest Society we love to welcome people to the woods. We routinely spend time and effort encouraging people to take a walk in the woods in hopes that more of them will appreciate the multiple benefits of forests. So we want it to be a good thing when we see so many people seeking solace and fresh air and exercise in our forests during such an extraordinary time in our history.

But it’s only good if we can keep the crowds down. Please help us do that.
Be safe.
From deep in the woods,

Jack Savage, President


For my part, I will continue to blog about my trips, even as I reduce my own peak bagging efforts. Hopefully it helps you to find places to enjoy that are less populous. I’ve got some trips planned that include less glamorous locations that should still offer plenty to be thrilled about. For your part, if you have a favorite local area that just warms the cockles of your heart every time you visit, please drop me a note; I’ll make a post with your suggestions so everyone can benefit.

We’re going to get through this, and it’ll be in our collective rear view mirror before we know it. Until then, continue to enjoy the outdoors smartly, and mindfully of those who will come after us, who would like to enjoy our beloved wilderness in the future in the same way that we will have done so “in the past.”

Thanks everyone.

As always, stay safe out there.

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