People seeking to get outdoors for the long Memorial Day weekend should be aware of some of the newly reopened recreation sites and some that are still closed to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Trails and parks in King and Pierce counties have reopened for public use, but there are still restrictions in place to cut down on large crowds and encourage social distancing.
Restrooms remain closed at Seattle and Tacoma parks. Recreation centers, playgrounds, picnic areas, and sports fields also remain closed to discourage people from gathering in groups.
And parking lots at most of the larger parks in King and Pierce counties are still closed, so you'll want to plan ahead for parking.
WASHINGTON STATE PARKS:
Dozens of Washington state parks are now open for day use only. Camping is not allowed until Washington enters Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee's four-phased approach to reopening the state.
Click here for a full list of reopened state parks.
Visitors should expect restroom facilities to be limited or closed completely at state parks. Parking capacity at some urban locations will also be reduced to help decrease the number of people in the parks at one time.
Ocean beach parks and those along the Columbia River Gorge are still closed.
The National Park System said it's increasing access and services in a phased approach across the country in accordance with guidelines from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Olympic National Park has reopened the Lake Crescent area for day-use recreation only. This includes the Barnes Point area with access to the Marymere Falls and Moments in Time trailheads and the Storm King boat launch. Bovee’s Meadow, La Poel, and East Beach picnic areas are also accessible.
Sol Duc Road has also reopened to vehicles for day-use recreation, however, the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, RV & Campground remain closed. The Heart O’ the Forest trail in the Heart O’ the Hills area are also accessible for day use with parking available at the amphitheater, according to the park's website.
All coastal areas, campgrounds, and visitor centers remain closed and most park roads and restrooms remain closed as well.
Mount Rainier National Park is also starting to slowly allow visitors back in. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has opened State Routes 410 and 123 between Enumclaw and Packwood, to include Cayuse Pass, according to the latest update on the park's website.
Visitors can now access the trailheads along those roads and hike in the park. Park visitors should plan to park in designated roadside parking areas and plan for limited restroom facilities.
Park visitors can access the Ohanapecosh area for walk-in day-use recreation only.
SR 410 East over Chinook Pass to Yakima remains closed.
According to the park's website, some park roads, parking areas, and trailheads including the Nisqually Entrance, Paradise, and Longmire areas, remain closed to private vehicles. Park officials say they're planning for access to Longmire and Paradise to be restored through the Nisqually Entrance when Washington moves to Phase 2, which is expected in June.
"The park will continue to evaluate updated health guidance and will reopen to vehicles in a phased approach when it is safe to do so," read the latest update.
The North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area still remain closed to all park visitors until further notice, according to the park's website.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest reopened the majority of trailheads and day-use areas in a phased approach on Friday, May 22, just in time for the holiday weekend.
However, sites such as Boulder Cave and day-use sites located within campgrounds with no separate access are still closed until campgrounds are allowed to reopen.
Some restroom facilities, recreation rental facilities including cabins and fire lookouts also remain closed.
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest reopened earlier this month for visitors to access day-use and trailhead sites. Forest Roads 81, 83, and 90 are also reopened to the general public.
Campgrounds, Lower Falls Recreation Area, Ape Cave Interpretive Site, and Forest Road 8303, as well as Johnston Ridge Observatory remain closed.
The Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest also began a phased reopening of trailheads, day-use areas, and other recreation sites on Friday, according to a press release on the U.S. Forest Service website. Campgrounds will remain closed so staff can prepare the areas for operation.
TIPS FOR RECREATING RESPONSIBLY:
While many state and local recreation sites are reopening, health experts are still recommending people practice social distancing while outdoors and if an area is too crowded, consider going somewhere else or staying closer to home.
Here are six tips from the Washington Trails Association for being prepared and responsible in the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Practice Physical Distancing: Choose a location where you can maintain at least six feet between you and other hikers. Only hike with other members of your household. Be respectful of other hikers and communicate with each other on who will pass by first, etc., while you're on the trail.
- Stay Close to Home: With many county and city parks and trails reopened, it's a good idea to think about staying close to home.
- Plan Ahead: Most restroom facilities at state and local parks remain closed, so be sure to use the bathroom before you go. Pack whatever food and water you'll need, and don't forget hand sanitizer, a face mask and toilet paper.
- Pack It In, Pack It Out: Be sure to clean up after yourself on the trail, take any garbage or waste with you and dispose of it properly.
- Respect Closures: Research the location you want to visit before you go and if it's closed or you arrive to a closed sign, respect the closure and find a different spot.
- Play It Safe: Keep your hikes within your skillset. Any risks could lead to injury or needing to be rescued, adding to the strain on our healthcare system and putting emergency workers at risk. If you are sick, stay home.
If you're wanting to get outside, but just unsure of where to start as far as popular or unpopular hikes and what will be open or closed, you can research on the Washington Trails Association website.