As hiking trails and parks begin to reopen, often with restrictions and new rules for social distancing and face coverings, the question on everyone’s mind is “which hiking trails are open?”
If you visit any of the Facebook groups devoted to hiking, you’ll see plenty of people asking the question in various forms. “Are all hiking trails in Los Angeles open?” “Is Mount Baldy open?” “Can I hike the Bridge to Nowhere Trail?”
The Coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for many of us who feel most at home in the outdoors, because we’ve been asked to stay-at-home, even if it’s for good reason. Many park systems, trailheads and trails were closed altogether. Now as parks and trails begin reopening and people are beginning to think about hiking again, the first question is naturally, where can I hike?
Asking social media for the answer to that question is not a reliable way to get definitive answers. Ask ten people, and you might get ten different answers. I’m going to show you how you can find out with certainty whether a trail is open for hiking.
How to find out if a hiking trail is open
When the Los Angeles County parks announced they were reopening trails, many people incorrectly (but understandably) thought this meant that all trails within Los Angeles County would be open, when it fact it referred only to trails in parks managed by LA County Parks. Much of the confusion lies in the language, but ultimately it comes down to which agency has jurisdiction over the land where your trail is found.
- Your first step is to find out where the trail is, and which agency has jurisdiction over the land. Is it city, county, state, federal, tribal, or privately managed land? A quick search on Google will usually help you find out.
- Next, check the official website for the managing agency. They will have definitive information on which trails, trailheads, parks and campgrounds are open or closed.
- Check the guidelines for use of the trail. Many areas still require physical distancing outside of your immediate household, and often include face covering requirements. The same managing agency website will provide this information.
Links to Governing Agencies
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
Taquitz Canyon & Indian Canyons
Los Coyotes Indian Reservation
Hot Springs Mountain
Please avoid visiting national forests if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the forest. If an area is crowded, move to a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.
Angeles National Forest
Strawberry Peak, Mount Wilson, Mount Baldy (Mt San Antonio), Ontario Peak
They have extended the closure of four formal trailheads and 23 informal trail access points, resulting in a larger closure of 23 trails and 19 roads. In total, this results in closure of 81.5 miles of trail (out of 760 open miles) and 54.5 miles of road. The closure does not close the ability to walk on to National Forest System land but does restrict access to roughly 40,000 out of 700,000 acres of the Angeles.
Cleveland National Forest
Sitton Peak, Santiago Peak, High Point (Palomar)
Some high-use trailheads and trails are closed.
Coconino National Forest – Sedona, Arizona
Bear Mountain, Wilson Mountain
The vast majority of the forest is still open to visitors who want to spend time outdoors participating in recreational opportunities that support social distancing, such as hiking and biking on trails, and dispersed camping.
Inyo National Forest
The Inyo National Forest has extended the cancelled the issuance of Wilderness permits, including Mt. Whitney day and overnight permits, through May 31. Cancellations had previously been through May 15. People with a Wilderness permit reservation that is cancelled will receive a notice from recreation.gov that notifies them that their reservation has been cancelled and a refund has been issued. The forest will continue to evaluate this process based on state and local health guidance.
Los Padres National Forest
Most trails are open.
San Bernardino National Forest
Cucamonga Peak, San Bernardino Peak, San Gorgonio
California State Parks
Mount San Jacinto, Cuyamaca Peak
Many state parks and beaches are closed or have very limited access to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. Check the State Parks COVID-19 Resource Center to confirm operating status for a given park.
Los Angeles County
County multi-use trails, trail heads, and park facilities that serve as trail staging areas are reopening Saturday, May 9, 2020. County Multi-Use Trail Hours of Operation are from Sunrise to Sunset, however, trail parking/trailheads that are located within County Natural Areas are open from 8:30am until 5pm. Visit https://parks.lacounty.gov/ for more information on County Parks and Natural Areas.
Follow all posted regulations at trails and trailhead facilities. Physical distancing of 6 feet is required and no group gatherings are allowed on trails or in parking areas. Trail users over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings at trailheads, parking areas, and destination points along trails.
San Diego County
Volcan Mountain, El Cajon Mountain
Campgrounds have reopened.
Los Angeles City Parks
Trails reopened on May 9th with the following restrictions:
- Do not gather in groups or hike with people outside your immediate household
- Wear your face covering
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from others who are not members of your immediate household.
- If you cannot maintain social distancing, choose another trail.
The Bottom Line
You can get back out on the trail, but do so safely and follow all guidelines so that the trails don’t get closed again. Check the appropriate website for the governing agency before you go. If you’re not sure which agency is in charge, Google it!
When you do get to a trail that’s open, avoid congregating with others at the trailhead. If a trail is too crowded, find a different trail. And follow the social distancing guidelines for hiking.
Do you have an agency or area that we should include on this list? Let us know in the comments below.