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When the first public health guidelines were issued in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Bay Area residents were still allowed to hike, bike, walk and generally enjoy the region's abundant nature. But the first weekend of shelter in place shifted the conversation. When people swarmed Bay Area beaches and parks to enjoy the sunshine, public health officials cracked down, saying the observed behavior was in clear violation of social distancing rules.
Pictures of crowded beaches prompted several Bay Area counties to close park and beach parking lots; other counties decided to close trails altogether. Most recently, the California Department of Parks and Recreation announced it was closing vehicle access to all state parks until further notice.
As closures expand, so have the shelter in place orders. News broke Monday that the restrictions would be extended to May 1 in the Bay Area.
Now many are struggling to find ways to get outside and ease their minds without violating public health guidelines. As always, officials suggest the safest way to stretch your legs is to walk, run or bike around your neighborhood (while maintaining six feet or more of distance from all of your friendly neighbors).
Here's where you can still get out in nature during the coronavirus pandemic, broken down by county:
Alameda County: East Bay Regional Parks has closed dozens of parking lots, trailheads and recreation areas, but many remain open - especially for walk-in access. Tilden, a large hiking and recreation area in the Berkeley hills, has many of its parking lots and picnic areas closed through the end of April, though most of the trails remain open. Other popular hiking areas, like Mission Peak in Fremont, were unaffected. See if the park closest to you is open here.
Contra Costa County: While playgrounds, restrooms and water fountains are closed at Contra Costa parks, the parks themselves are all still open. See a full list here.
Marin County: Marin public health officials are asking residents to only go to parks, beaches and nature areas that they can walk to. See the full list of parks and related restrictions here. Muir Woods (part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) is closed.
Napa County: All parks and trails in Napa are currently open. The county asks visitors to go midweek when possible and pick less popular trails to maximize social distancing. More info here.
San Francisco County: Twin Peaks Road and parking lots at Ocean Beach, Beach Chalet, Marina Green and Little Marina are all closed. The Lands End Lookout is also closed. Any other parks and beaches you can walk to are open to enjoy. The city's biggest park, Golden Gate Park, is still open (though places like the Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, etc. are all closed).
San Mateo County: All county parks are closed until further notice. More information from the county here. Parks in San Mateo County that are part of Golden Gate National Parks (Milagra Ridge, Mori Point, Phleger Estate and Sweeney Ridge) are still open.
Santa Clara County: All parks and trails in Santa Clara County are currently open. The county asks visitors to go midweek when possible and pick less popular trails to maximize social distancing. Picnics and other family gatherings in parks are banned. More info here.
Solano County: All parks in Solano County are closed until at least April 7. The county suggests residents restrict outdoor activity to their immediate neighborhoods. More info here.
Sonoma County: All parks, including small neighborhood parks and playgrounds, and beaches are closed until further notice. Read the full order from the county's health officer here.
In some counties, even neighborhood parks are off limits. The rules on smaller neighborhood parks varies from city to city, so it's best to check your city's parks department website before heading out. In any case, playgrounds should not be used.
Wherever you go, always remember to keep six feet of distance between you and anyone outside of your household. Avoid touching any surfaces and wash your hands before and after leaving your house.
If you're feeling sick, the best thing to do is stay home and contact your doctor.
Guidelines and orders around the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly evolving. For the latest coronavirus news, find our full coverage here.
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