Hikes Best Practices and Guidance

PATC has adapted the Charlottesville Chapter protocol for hikes as our Club’s guidance for best practices for hike leaders and participants:

  • The health and well-being of the hiking participants and hike leaders is our top priority.
  • Hike leaders have always had the right to cancel a hike for whatever reason they see fit.
  • During this time, groups should be limited to 12 or fewer participants. If multiple established hike leaders attend an event, there can be multiple, separated groups of 12 or fewer, preferably divided equally, each led by an established hike leader.
  • Prior to the hike, hike leaders will contact each attendee via email or Meetup group messaging and remind them not to attend if they have tested positive for the COVID-19. In addition, any participant whose temperature exceeds 100, or who has a cough or shortness of breath, must not attend the hike.
  • Hike leaders should also discourage participation by children under 12, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, people who have weakened immune systems, as each of these groups are identified by the CDC as being at higher risk of severe illness.
  • Also, at higher risk are people 60 or older, so inexperienced older hikers should be discouraged from joining hikes at this time. Many of experienced hikers fit the older demographic, but are in excellent shape, minimizing the risk.
  • Hike leaders should take added input from participants at the trailhead to determine that each is healthy and has brought sufficient water and personal food for their hike. There should be no sharing of food, water or other gear.
  • Hike leaders should not bring sweets to share among the group –even though it is a chapter tradition. Hike leaders should strongly discourage such sharing by hike participants who may have brought something for the group.
  • Hike leaders should bring hand sanitizer for the group, if possible.
  • Hike leaders should be prepared for lower attendance due to last minute cancellations, and should not hesitate to cancel or alter the event if cancellations are so prevalent as to make the event difficult to conduct.
  • Hike leaders should confirm that the hiking destination remains open and determine that last minute closures have not occurred due to the COVID-19 virus.
  • Hike leaders should remind hikers to maintain a sufficient distance between others on the trail.
  • Post-hike events, such as microbrewery or restaurant visits, are discouraged during this time.
  • Planning the types of hikes conducted should reflect the added restrictions this COVID-19 situation requires. This should include:
    • No destinations over 1-hour drive time from the pre-trailhead meeting location.
    • Hikes in your local area are encouraged that allow participants to travel individually to the trailhead without the need to carpool.
    • Related, hike leaders should encourage participants to minimize carpooling with people they would not otherwise have day-to-day contact with. This prioritizes public health, despite contradicting a low-impact ethic.
    • Popular high-traffic hiking trails, such as Old Rag, Humpback Rocks, and White Oak Canyon should be avoided. There are many other trails that have few hikers.
    • No overnight outings during this period.

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