View of a lake on a beautiful day

Safe Hiking Tips and Tricks

As the weather gets warmer take some trips and explore nature while practicing social distancing! Here are tips for staying safe, top 10 trails in New Jersey, virtual tours of national parks and trails and tips and tricks for your hike!

7 Tips for Social Distancing While Visiting New Jersey’s State Parks and Natural Areas

Resource: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

  1. Make space for others on the trails
    • To protect yourself and other park visitors while on trails, visitors should warn other users of their presence when passing by. As others pass, step aside for them.
  2. Go solo or with immediate family.
    • Please visit parks with family members from your household or for solo activities such as dog-walking or biking. Follow carry-in/carry-out guidelines by cleaning up after your pet and taking home with you any trash.
  3. Give yourself and others space
    • Do not gather in groups of 10 or more and maintain a six-foot distance from others at all times. If the recommended distance is not possible, go to another area of the park or visit the park another time.
  4. Drop your line, keep your distance
    • As warmer weather and the spring trout fishing season approaches, anglers are reminded that the six-foot distance rule remains in effect. If the required distance cannot be maintained, find another area to fish.
  5. Go before you go
    • As park restrooms are closed, please use the restroom before visiting a park. Do not attempt to open bathroom or other facility doors, which are locked.
  6. Stay away from playground equipment and parks facilities
    • All playground equipment and all park buildings such as nature centers, bathrooms, offices and historic buildings are closed. Events have been canceled and all upcoming camping reservations through Thursday, April 30 have been canceled. Camping reservations will be refunded in full and new camping reservations will not be accepted.
  7. Follow CDC and state health recommendations
    • Visit cdc.gov and covid19.nj.gov for the most recent recommendations to protect yourself and others from spreading COVID-19.

Top 10 Hiking Destinations in New Jersey

Additional Online Resources


Tips and Tricks

Bear Safety

Everyone who participates in Outdoor Adventure trips through the Student Recreation Center or engages in outdoor activities on their own should always practice bear safety when out enjoying the wilderness. A few things to be aware of:

  • Never feed or approach a bear!
  • Remain calm if you encounter a bear.
  • Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands or making other noises.
  • Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear a challenge. Never run from a bear. Instead slowly back away.
  • Black bears attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back.
Zika Virus Info

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus. Please exercise caution when going outdoors in the coming months. You can get further information and safety recommendations from the CDC website.

What we know

  • No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika).
  • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below).
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
  • Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.

Steps to prevent mosquito bites

When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes, take the following steps:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
Backpack Packing Tips
  • You’ll be a happier camper if you know how to pack your sack strategically for both comfort and convenience. Your heaviest items should be placed on top of your sleeping bag and close to your spine. Usually these items will be your food stash, water supply, cooking kit and stove.
  • Share the weight of large communal items (e.g. tent) with others in your group. You carry the main body, for example, and your friend can carry the poles and rainfly.
  • Compression straps: tighten all compression straps to limit load-shifting.
  • Read the REI article about “10 Essentials.”
Ticks
  • Know where to expect ticks.
  • Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks when walking through leaf litter or near shrubs. Always walk in the center of trails in order to avoid contact with ticks.
  • Use a repellent with DEET on skin.
  • Repellents containing 20% or more DEET can protect up to several hours.
  • What to do if you find an attached tick.
Blisters
  • Blisters are caused by friction and amplified by moist environments. Wear wool socks which wick moisture.
  • Should You Pop?
    • To pop or not to pop is the big and hotly debated question. Even the experts disagree about when to drain a blister. If you do end up popping the blister make sure it is as sterile as possible in order to prevent infection.
Forest Fire Prevention
  • Comply with all local laws and regulations. Many municipalities have laws governing burnings including time of day, time of year and what substance can be burned.
  • Check the weather. It is never a good idea to engage in any type of burning if there are high winds. Wind can act as both an accelerant and can spread the fire.
  • Only use easily controlled locations for burning. Make sure all campfires occur in fully surrounded fire pits and limit the size of all fires. No matter how something is being burned, it is important to do it in a controlled area.
Leave No Trace
  • Reduce Trash. Be thoughtful about food portions when cooking. Good meal planning helps reduce trash, pack weight and dependence upon campfires.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species. Don’t bring soil, plants of any kind (other than dead vegetables) or firewood(this can be purchased nearby). Clean and inspect clothing, gear and containers for weeds and other “hitchhikers” before you leave.
  • Stay on the trail and avoid unplanned shoot-off trails. Try to keep impact to flora minimal by staying on the trail. Avoid venturing off into areas where damage is just beginning, such as impromptu trails created by other hikers stepping off trail.