Love of nature in the time of Covid-19

So it’s now day what? of your self-quarantine, a number you’re only able to guesstimate by counting the stains on the sweatshirt you’ve been wearing since day one. You’ve Netflixed yourself into a stupor after eating through your two-week supply of Costco snacks in two days. Your spouse/roommates/kids/pets are beginning to resemble fellow characters in a Hitchcockian saga somewhere between Lifeboat and Rear Window. And all the while you’re obsessively worrying the tickle in your chest is, you know, that. You need to get out, like yesterday.

So what’s a quarantiner to do? First of all, consider yourself fortunate if you’re not having to continue to work out in public, ringing up customers at Safeway or driving Uber shifts. And if you’re a healthcare worker, bless you. For the rest of us, fresh air and sunshine are a sure remedy to cabin fever, a great way to release corona angst for those still working. Fortunately the Bay Area is blessed with a bounty of open lands and parks easy access from most any address, whether a city park down the street or a big National Park a close ride away.

But before you go, there are a number of important guidelines to follow to keep you and everyone around you safe and virus-free.

+If you’re sick, stay home. Rest and get better, and don’t inadvertently infect anyone.
+Practice social distancing – maintain a minimum of six feet between you and others.
+If you arrive at your park of choice and find a crowded parking lot, go somewhere else.
+Try to stay within your city or county borders. A good rule of thumb: keep to parks you can walk or bike to, which is pertinent for those parks that remain open but closed their parking lots.
+Check the website of the park you wish to visit since its status can change daily. Some parks have closed because of large crowds.

In general, campgrounds, visitor centers, park stores, and other facilities where people gather are closed, while trails and beaches remain open.

National Parks

Closures at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with several parks in Marin and San Francisco, includes facilities, camp grounds, parking lots, roads, and a few entire parks. Alcatraz, Fort Point and Muir Woods are completely closed. If you want to visit Crissy Field, Lands End or Baker Beach, you’ll need to walk or bike, and don’t be surprised if you find a ‘closed’ sign due to crowds.

Point Reyes National Seashore is mostly closed until at least April 7, including many park roads and most parking lots.

Except for the visitor center and other facilities, the Presidio appears to be open for biking and hiking.

California State Parks

The agency has published a list of parks closed to traffic, which means the only way to access their trails or beaches is to walk or bike to them. For the Bay Area, this includes everything from Mount Diablo SP in the East Bay, Mount Tamalpais SP and Tomales Bay SP in Marin, the half-dozen state beaches in San Mateo County, Henry Cowell SP and several state beaches in Santa Cruz, and a number of parks in Sonoma. If you’re thinking of sneaking away to Mendocino or down to Big Sur, a number of their parks are affected as well.

San Francisco Parks

All playgrounds in city parks are closed, as are parking lots at Ocean Beach, Beach Chalet and Marina Green. The SF Zoo, Cal Academy of Sciences, and any facility where people can gather are closed. Otherwise city parks remain open for now, which could change depending on the level of crowds this weekend.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Preserves

Except for Windy Hill, which is closed, the 24 preserves found throughout the peninsula are open. Though restrooms, several parking areas and group gathering sites are closed, while loop trails are one-way only. More closings may follow if crowd numbers are too high.

East Bay Regional Park District

Facilities and parking lot closures are extensive at many East Bay Parks, along with several parks. Walk-in access is allowed at others. Check before setting out.

Santa Clara Open Space Authority

The four nature preserves in the south and east of San Jose are open for now.

San Mateo County Parks

As of now, all parks in San Mateo County are closed. This includes Coyote Point, Memorial Park, Sam McDonald Park and Pescadero Creek Park. Beach parking lots in Half Moon Bay and Pacifica are also closed.

Marin County Parks

Because everyone descended on Marin County last weekend, all Marin parks are under various restrictions. Basically you can only walk or bike through.


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