Getting outdoors in the fresh air during the COVID-19 shutdown promises benefits to both physical and mental health. Yet campgrounds, sno-parks and trailheads are shut down. That has raised questions about whether hiking is allowed during the current shutdown.

Recreational activities such as walking and hiking are specifically allowed under Governor Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order of March 23. However, those doing so must be able to maintain six feet of separation from others, and any grouping of people during outdoor activities is prohibited.

In a note to the Sisters Trails Alliance, U.S. Forest Service Sisters District Ranger Ian Reid stated that, “All developed recreation sites on the Deschutes National Forest are closed to align with the Governor’s stay home, stay alive order. This includes trailheads.”

Reid noted that, “The trails themselves are technically still open at this point, as are miles of forest roads where the public can get exercise while practicing social distancing. The closure of developed sites including trailheads and sno-parks will hopefully discourage people taking trips within the state to recreate and potentially inadvertently spread COVID-19.

“We understand there will be some local use of trails from people who live close to the national forest. At this time the general forest, trails, and forest roads are still open to public use. Trailheads are closed to parking and any bathrooms at those trailheads are also closed.”