Too close! 

To combat the spread of COVID-19, remember to stay home as much as you possibly can, stay at least 6 feet from others if out, and wear a mask! Exercise and outdoor activity is encouraged, but you should take appropriate precautions. Though getting out on a Pennsylvania Water Trail can help you keep physically distant from people, here are some ways to stay as safe as possible:

Watch and share this video about COVID-19 precautions on the water from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission:

Keep yourself safe from COVID-19 while exploring Pennsylvania Water Trails:

  1. Avoid popular paddling or outdoor activity locations and time your trip wisely. If you know a popular outdoor recreation area will likely draw a lot of people, go somewhere else! This makes following all the other guidelines easier. With schools and businesses closed, keep in mind that many people will be out at times they normally wouldn’t be–making for unexpected crowds. This is an opportunity to discover new parts of PA. 

  2. Paddle in places that you know require far less paddling skill than you have.  Take every precaution to paddle safely and avoid a paddling-related injury. Even on urban Water Trails, an injury could leave you stranded in a location that is difficult for first responders to reach. You’ll be drawing emergency personnel away from COVID-19 response efforts, and you will likely be exposed to medical staff that have been exposed to the novel coronavirus themselves.

  3. Keep your group size small. Normally, paddling with a friend keeps you safe. Under these circumstances, we recommend paddling solo in a safe place you already know well while letting friends know where you’re going and when. Keep your paddler group limited to 2-3 people at most.

  4. Maintain at least a 6-foot distance at all times from others outside your household and minimize the time you’re in the same vicinity as others. Carry on friendly conversations with folks you haven’t seen for a while over the phone. This applies to all activities. Even while you’re paddling, stay 6 feet away from others on the waterway. This includes other paddlers, even those in your own group. Keeping a full kayak paddle length between you and others should be enough.

  5. Bring supplies to wash your hands and bring your own hand towel. Throw a bar of soap, a bucket, and clean water in with the rest of your gear so you can wash your hands before and after paddling. Hand sanitizer is another option.

  6. Only touch your own gear. Again, we’re applying a common rule to paddling. If you help someone carry a boat, remember where you touched it. If you carry the stern to launch, carry the stern when you take out.

  7. Avoid areas that require you to touch common surfaces. If you know there’s a tricky portage or launch that might make you want to grab a railing or put your hands down on a common surface, consider alternatives, or be prepared to wash your hands while in the middle of your trip.

  8. Avoid sharing snacks and drinks. Bring plenty for everyone to have their own stash. Avoid all sharing. Make every person carry their own food bag.

  9. Don’t let COVID-19 distract you from following normal safety precautions. This is all a distracting, frustrating mess, and it will end eventually. Until then, take your time. Make sure to follow standard safety procedures like telling your friends where you’re going, checking river and weather conditions before you leave, and wearing a personal flotation device.

  10. Check for closures with the local Water Trail managers here.