Local Trail Traffic Increases as Restrictions Mount


Marissa Ortega-Welch

Since school closure and the stay-at-home order issued by Contra Costa County on March 17 due to COVID-19, students have been spending more time outdoors to combat daily quarantine boredom.

Whether it be a stroll around the block or a hike on 1 of the many rolling green hills surrounding Lamorinda, nature walks have proven to be a popular activity during these uncertain times. It only takes a quick scroll through Instagram and VSCO to find the stream of photos amidst the outdoors flooding feeds.

According to junior Noel Seo, students’ lives are normally “consumed by studying and indoor extracurriculars,” so much so that it is easy to “forget to enjoy nature and wind down once in a while.”

Senior Kimya Peyvan sees “getting fresh air” as not only beneficial for “mental health,” but also as a way for students to become more “environmentally aware.”

While this newfound appreciation for nature seems to be a harmless pandemic pastime, crowding of public trails threatens the ability to follow social distancing guidelines.

According to the East Bay Regional Park District, as a result of overcrowding of Regional Parks “most notably the weekend of March 21-22,” the Park District has temporarily closed many parks as of March 25. Closures within the Lamorinda area include Briones Regional Park, Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, Lafayette Reservoir, the Rim Trail, Rheem Trail, and the Campolindo Trail. The Diablo Foothills Regional Park also has limited parking access.

In addition, the East Bay Regional Park District has temporarily closed all public bathrooms, water fountains, playgrounds, dog parks, and picnic areas in the areas it manages.

According to Peyvan, her local trails have been packed with people since the stay-at-home order was issues, causing her to flee to “smaller trails to avoid crowds.”

“It’s hard to trust strangers so we stopped going,” said Peyvan.

Junior Jocelyn Poon, however, doesn’t see public use of trails as a threat to public health as long as “people are making a conscious effort to stay 6 feet away from 1 another.”

Despite the closure of trails and parks statewide, the California stay-at-home mandate still allows Californians to “walk, run, hike and bike in their local neighborhoods as long as they continue to practice social distancing of 6 feet,” according to the California Coronavirus Response.

However, Poon foresees “more restrictions to be made as the virus gets worse,” and hopes to “take advantage of going outside,” while she still can.