Getting back into spring backcountry hiking

Are you an outdoor recreation or backcountry group that’s seeking resources to transition during different reopening phases of COVID-19?

The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC has put together some tips, guides, and protocols that include best practices from outdoor member clubs and have been collaboratively built based on recommendations from health professionals and outdoor recreation organizations:

Recommended actions to stay safe while restarting group hikes, backcountry trips, and club events

  • When travelling to shared destinations, car-pooling is not recommended.
  • Maintain 1 to 2 hiking pole lengths (approx. 2 metres or more) between individuals while hiking or snowshoeing. If you are jogging or biking, double or triple that physical distance. 
  • Avoid sharing unpackaged food. Do not share containers, utensils, or hydration packs.
  • While heading on hiking trips, bring your own supply of hand sanitizer, wipes or tissues, & a seal-locked plastic bag to contain and carry out, and dispose of waste.
  • Social events and meetings may need to be rescheduled or cancelled depending on presenter preference, location availability, and local situation.
    • Any in-person gatherings require appropriate physical distancing and no more than 50 people if social distancing remains possible given the size of the facility.
      View further info for outdoor recreation facility operators from Vancouver Coastal Health.
    • Consider using digital methods to stay connected and host presentations or workshops.
      For example, BC AdventureSmart has been using alternative modes to deliver their safety training workshops online, such as their surviving outside and kids’ hug-a-tree and survive programs. They have also hosted virtual meet-ups and partnered on podcasts discussing the latest topics.

View all backcountry hiking tips and recommended actions.

The FMCBC wishes to acknowledge the Caledonia Ramblers for drafting these best practices and tips. Special thanks to Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer from Vancouver Coastal Health and the provincial Public Health Office in Victoria for reviewing and providing input into these COVID-19 protocols.

Trail management

Strategies to keep parks and trails partially, yet safely, open

Parks and trails managers can also consider ways to keep trails or recreation areas partly open during the different phases of reopening in the pandemic.

RC Strategies has put together a visitor management toolbox that looks at site design and infrastructure, visitor education, regulation, enforcement, and evaluation and monitoring. The toolbox includes 8 tools that could be integrated into a visitor management plan:

  1. Temporarily Adjust Site Designs & Permitted Uses to Support Physical Distancing
  2. Actively Disperse Visitors Throughout the Park System
  3. Establish Visitor Carrying Capacities for the Busiest Parks and Trails
  4. Provide Essential Infrastructure that Allows Visitor to Minimize Transmission
  5. Actively Educate Visitors and Demonstrate Appropriate Behaviours
  6. Backstop Indirect Visitor Management Actions with Regulation & Enforcement
  7. If Closure is the Only Option, Keep Residents Connected to their Parks…Virtually
  8. Start Your Recovery Marketing and Communications Planning Now

View the full guide here, which highlights tips for each tool in the kit.

Please share these resources with other outdoor clubs and recreation management groups. In times of stress, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, people turn to the outdoors and nature for its restorative mental and physical benefits.

If you are not a member, consider joining the FMCBC. Membership benefits include:

  • Connect with thousands of members from across BC to promote, protect, and maintain non-motorized access to BC’s backcountry.
  • Join a Committee or provide a collective voice to advocate for parks, trails, and quiet places for recreationists to enjoy across BC.
  • Receive tips and resources for outdoor recreation clubs or just to find your next hiking, biking, or kayaking adventure through getting involved in group discussions or subscribing to receive monthly or bi-annual publications.
  • Add-on optional insurance to provide protection for directors, officers, or club members for claims arising from club-organized tours, trips, and other outdoor activities.
  • Apply for a Club Member Grant to support a project that enhances outdoor and backcountry recreation.
Join the FMCBC