How To Hike Responsibly During A Pandemic: A Guide For A Virus-Free Outdoor Trip

Rilor Staff
Update: September 7, 2020
Table of Contents

How to hike responsibly during a pandemic? 

The world right now is stricken by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many countries shut their borders, and states have to force some lockdown measures, too. Of course, I acknowledged that some of these measures had been eased already, especially in various European Countries who had been the epicenters of the outbreak. 

Nonetheless, this doesn't discount the fact that the virus is still there. It has no cure, and proper precautionary steps are advised to prevent its contraction. 

If your current state or local area allows hiking, you must never be carefree. Be cautious all the time, as the threat of spreading the disease is still there. 

How To Hike Responsibly During A Pandemic

These are the things that you need to keep in mind whenever you have plans to hike amidst the course of the pandemic.

Trails And Parks Are Open. Can I Hike Or Camps Like I Used To Do?

The big answer is no. Things are not the same anymore. If you are a responsible person, you need to ensure that you don't break the "new normal" protocols to ensure that the virus will not spread. 

These days, public health officials and doctors recommend social distancing. Yes. Even on a hiking trip, social distancing must be practiced already. Again, let me reiterate that there are still no vaccines available for the COVID-19. And I bet it will not come out sooner. Hence, this is your best defense. 

How Should Social Distancing Be Done In A Hike?

Social distancing is a crucial measure for the prevention of COVID-19. In fact, there's a huge chance that your life right now is saved by avoiding physical contact with people in the previous months. You should be happy about that. 

Social distancing is not just a matter of ensuring that you don't get the virus. Doing these also protects those who are incredibly vulnerable to the disease. Allow me to emphasize that each of us should treat ourselves as carriers. Always be vigilant as you don't want to spread the virus to children, elderly, pregnant, and other vulnerable individuals.

Furthermore, social distancing helps our essential workers and medical practitioners. You are lessening their burdens!

Meanwhile, here are the social distancing measures that you should do during hiking trips:

  • Limit the people who can go with you. As much as possible, hike or camp alone. If you want to bring someone, make sure that it is someone from your household. It is quite risky to bring someone that has an ambiguous travel history. Even your close friend could have visited the gasoline station, grocery stores, and other public areas where the infection rate is quite high. 
  • Your hiking partners should be those that are within your close social proximity. Don't look for other individuals yet. 
  • Maintain the proper distance. In a public hiking trail, make sure that you observe the 6-foot rule. The latter means that the gap between you and the people on the path should be at least six feet. 
  • Avoid carpooling. Social distancing is not plausible whenever you are inside a vehicle. As much as possible, you have to go to your trail destination using your very own car or truck. If you are bringing someone, make sure that it is a member of your household or people who has disclosed travel histories. 
  • Avoid the crowd. The crowd is the enemy of every social distancing protocol. It made me reflect that overpopulation is indeed one of the reasons why the pandemic has struck the world severely. It is difficult to maintain safe distances anymore because of the sheer number of people. If you have arrived at a trail that is filled with a considerable number of hikers, cancel the hike. Find another camping or hiking site that is not that crowded yet. 
  • Do it early or late. Just like our highways and roads, campgrounds and hiking trails have their peak hours, too. During these periods, the number of people present might overwhelm you, making social distancing a difficult task to do. Hike early or late to guarantee that only a few numbers of outdoor goers are present.
  • Don't leave your area. Going from one place to another is not advisable during the time of a pandemic. The risk of carrying and spreading the virus is quite high if you force yourself to tread great distances. Be responsible so that you will not cause harm to other people. 
  • Don't hike if you are sick. Are you feeling feverish? Do you have the symptoms that are common to the novel coronavirus? Even if you think that it is a simple flu, that shouldn't make you complacent. Do not go hiking. Do not leave your house. Contact your attending physician so that you will be checked. For now, enforce social isolation.

Should I Still Wear A Mask While Hiking?

This matter is subject to debate. Many argued that it is no longer necessary anymore, as the outdoors provide a safe haven for people not to get close to each other. 

But since we are talking about precautions here, I do suggest that you bring and wear one. Of course, health experts have the same recommendation, too. 

You see, you just never know what might transpire out there. Wearing a mask prevents the possibility of infection by a significant degree. It alleviates the fear of encountering other hikers and camp goers because you are protected. Furthermore, interaction during a hike is unavoidable. For instance, talking to the local guides and cashiers prove that having facial protection is crucial these times. 

Fortunately, you don't have to wear a mask all the time. As long as you maintain a distance of six feet, you are not susceptible to contracting the virus from other people in the trail. If possible, minimize conversations so that you don't have to wear your mask all the time while hiking. 

How Far Can I Travel?

You want to hike. But there's no nearby trail in your area. Is it safe to go to other places? If yes, how far can I travel? 

Well, you have to understand that the pandemic has become the way it is because of the movement of people. No movement, no transmission. That's the gist of it. 

As I said earlier, there's a risk of transmission if you are going to travel from one place to another. Again, let me emphasize that there's a need for us to treat ourselves as carriers. If you are a responsible and loving person, will you allow others to get the disease, too?

For now, my best recommendation is to stay within your area. If there's no hiking trail there, I suggest that you postpone your trip. Just wait for the day when this debacle is over. That's the safest time to hike. 

If you are going to force it, make sure that you don't have any contact with any people in the area you are heading. If there's a need to pack supplies, do it in your locality. Get your gas, food, cash, and other necessities in your neighborhood.

Stay on the trail. Do not stay at hotels and inns because transmission is common in these facilities. Don't dine in any restaurants, too. If you are going to use the restroom, make sure that you clean your hands properly afterward. Do not touch your face!

Don't Take Too Much Risk.

Hike on trails that are safe. Do not go to technical terrains. Hike only when the season is sunny and comfortable. 


During this era of the pandemic, rescue workers, police officers, and healthcare practitioners are all packed and busy. They are dealing with numerous emergencies that are either related to the virus or not. Most of you have seen the news that these individuals have already reached the point of exhaustion.

Hence, you can never expect them to come to your rescue immediately if an SHTF situation took place. Self-care and preservation are critical things right now. Always keep in mind that nobody might help you if you got stuck in a sticky predicament while hiking. 

You need to reconsider the difficulty of your hike. Pack the essential safety items (i.e., first-aid kit and survival gears). Be defensive as you don't want to get off guard.

Bring The Essential Amenities

A responsible hiker must have the following items in their possession during their outdoor excursion:

  • Navigation equipment (compass, GPS, map)
  • Sunscreen, glasses, hat, and other forms of sun protection
  • Extra clothing (don't use cotton)
  • Flashlight and headlamps
  • First-aid kits
  • Nutrition and provisions
  • Tent and emergency shelters
  • Whistle, cell phones, or satellite phones


It is essential that you know how to hike responsibly during a pandemic. It is not just about yourself. It is also about other people who you can meet along the way. 

Keep in mind that our enemy here is invisible. And we don't have to cure it yet. While the world is still finding ways to combat it, we have to do our part to ensure that it will not spread further. Keep in mind that we need to stop the virus from transmitting. Otherwise, we are all at risk. 

Do you know other means of protecting ourselves during a hike? Share it with us in the comment section below. 

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