How to Hike (Safely) During COVID

I have no clue what the name of this trail is. Best I can say is the trail was right by the lake in the first parking lot in the Sherando Recreation Area (which is still closed, FYI).

The hike I was going to do was blocked by a closed road. Although Google said the park was open (which now I know Google cannot be trusted for any useful information in regards to things being open or closed) it clearly was not, so instead I hiked this Something Trail.

As usual, I got lost. Right at the start too – I went the wrong direction. I don’t even think I was on a trail, I was just sort of wandering through the woods and decided to make a trail.

Pro Tip: If you’re walking up a mountain of endless rocks, no blazes, trail, or end in sight, turn around. Unless you’re trying to trail-blaze or get lost/injured. Fortunately, eventually a trail was found.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, I had an apple, and this was shortly before all the trails in my area closed (not going to lie, hopping barriers crossed my mind several times during quarantine but I abstained like the good American citizen I sometimes am…).

I tapped out about an hour and a half into the hike due to time constraints and lack of snacks, at a nice, rocky view point. The trail kept kept going though…

Anyway, to make this somewhat COVID related, here are some tips from me who knows nothing about hiking safely during COVID, or at any other time in history.

How to Sort of Hike Safely During Covid:

  1. Hike by yourself.
  2. Hike alone.
  3. Solo hike. (Make sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back).
  4. Drive yourself to the trail. Meet a friend at the trailhead. Stay 6 feet apart as you hike.
  5. Drive with a friend, but keep them in your trunk so you can maintain social distancing.
  6. Drive with a friend, but strap them to the roof of your car so you can maintain social distancing. Although this might not be 6 feet, the roof of your car should provide a nice barrier between you and their coronagerms.
  7. Drive with a friend but sanitize your car, wear masks, keep them in the backseat, and open the windows. If necessary, erect a Captain America’s shield between you and them. Kind of like a cop car but think vibranium instead of bars.
  8. Carry hand sanitizer and wet wipes.
  9. Don’t sneeze or cough on folks as you pass them. Hide your germs.
  10. Hike during a random weekday (early morning or evening), so you’ll have no company except the bears and the friend you strapped to the roof of your car.
  11. Pick a lightly-traversed trail, or hike part of a long trail.
  12. Pee beforehand otherwise you’ll end up peeing in the woods because everything is closed (not that this has ever happened to me before). Also, public restrooms are gross and should be avoided during non-pandemic times as well.
  13. Shower and change your clothes when you come home. Wash those coronagerms away.

Regardless, get outside and enjoy nature.

Sunrise Hikes: Bearfence Mountain

Sunrise over mountains

What’s better than waking up at 4:00 am to watch the sunrise at Bearfence in Shenandoah National Park?

Sunrise over mountains

Not much.

This was like the second “serious” hike I ever went on and, lemme tell you, hiking in the dark is something else (especially if you’re like me and can’t see very well even in broad daylight). But the views are worth it, especially just as the sun’s coming up over the mountains, and this hike is rather short – even my out of shape self got to the top in about 20 minutes.

Since this fateful time, which cemented my love of most things outdoor, I’ve hiked Bearfence at least a dozen times, half of which have been sunrise hikes, and the view never gets old.

Sunset Hike: Spy Rock

Spy Rock - a view of the mountains at sunset, they're slightly blue-ish. There's a puddle of water on the rock, reflecting the sky.

The magnificent Spy Rock was one of the first hikes I did before becoming a “serious” hiker and I nearly died (not really – not even close to dying, but I did come to the realization I was severely out of shape).

Spy Rock - a view of the mountains at sunset, they're slightly blue-ish. There's a puddle of water on the rock, reflecting the sky.

  1. Definitely thought the trail was way shorter than it was.
  2. Trying to get to the top before sunset added an extra level of rushing + being out of shape = couldn’t breathe 80% of the hike.
  3. Felt weird basically walking through somebody’s backyard at the start (But apparently the way we got to the trailhead is now closed…)
  4. 90% of it was uphill on a boring fire road (at least, in my memory it is. I haven’t been back since I hiked this in 2017).
  5. I’d never rock scrambled before. Ever. And I was not wearing shoes with good traction.

Anywho, it was super pretty at the top and it was exciting hustling back in the semi-dark.


View from the top of spy rock. The Sun is poking brightly through the clouds, giving the rolling mountains a light blue appearance. Also, it's fall so the leaves are between green and red/orange. There is water on the rock reflecting the sun.

Worth it for the views.

Rolling mountains - another view from the top. The sky is bright blue, the leaves are turning from green to red and orange.The setting sun over the gold and red mountains. The sky is golden on the horizon, but blue everywhere else.