Hiking is still a good option during the current pandemic as the Ice Age Trail remains open. It’s still recommend that you practice social distancing on the trails and avoid crowded areas. The IATA also recommends not picking up any trash along the trails at this time, as the coronavirus can live on some surfaces for 24 hours or longer.

While large celebrations of Earth Day have been put on hold, people can still go out and celebrate nature in their own way.

People can partake in the traditional planting of a tree in their yard or neighborhood, or simply enjoy the scenery on a nice hike.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance-Lodi Valley Chapter has been encouraging people to go out and hike at anytime, not just around Earth Day, which is April 22.

IATA Lodi Valley Chapter Coordinator Joanna Fanney said that hiking during this pandemic is a great option, while still practicing social distancing.

The Ice Age Trail remains open as an avenue for “physical health and mental wellness, especially during times of stress.”

Fanney said that her chapter of IATA did not plan anything for Earth Day because it would have been during its 4-day annual conference, which has since been canceled. She said that the National Parks Service has stopped all volunteering that involves contact with others until further notice. It all but eliminates typical Earth Day celebrations.

While a good Earth Day activity is to pick up trash to keep nature clean, it might not be the best thing to do at this time with the ongoing spread of coronavirus.

“Staff from the IATA do not recommend picking up trash on the trails or by the roads because the virus can live on some surfaces like cardboard for up to 24 hours,” Fanney said. “It’s best to wait to clean up trails and the roadside after the restrictions are lifted.”

And just because you are outside in the wide-open air, it is still recommended that you adhere to the proper precautions during the current pandemic.

The American Hiking Society suggests you stay within 50 miles of your home as to avoid stopping for gas, getting snacks at the store and stopping for restroom breaks — as a means to help stop the COVID-19 spread. As of April 2, it was further advised that the wisest option may be to stay within five miles of your home to do any hiking activities.

It is recommended that you limit your hiking or running partners to just members of your household and do not carpool with friends or family who are not in your household. If you are feeling sick, the IATA advises that you stay off the Ice Age Trail.

People should still keep 6 feet apart while on the trails and move far enough over to let others pass. People should avoid crowded trails, even if they are officially open. If there are too many people at a certain location, it is suggested that you go home for that day or go to another nearby location.

All hikers should still practice the “Leave No Trace” principals while on the trails, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Art on the Trail still scheduled

The IATA-Lodi Valley Chapter will still host its Art on the Trail in May, according to Fanney. She said artists can set up exhibits while still practicing social distancing and hikers can enjoy them from a safe distance.

The trail between the Merrimac Ferry and Slack Road Trailhead (part of the Gibraltar Rock Segment) will be the main place to see the artists.

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