NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that as of April 7 all Northampton County parks are closed to the public until further notice.
There are many things we can’t safely do because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, however spending time outside is generally still OK, as long as social distances are maintained. That means keeping at least six feet between yourself and others when walking, jogging or riding a bike in a park or along a trail, which residents should only visit if they feel healthy. Visit the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor website to read their complete list of trail etiquette for times of social distancing, which is also useful for anyone planning a visit to a park at this time.
Local residents should keep in mind that most public playgrounds and basketball courts are closed and off-limits until further notice, to aid in preventing the disease’s spread. Most public bathrooms and water fountains in parks are also currently closed.
Below is a list of public recreation areas that remain open to visitors, in which you should find plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the sights and sounds of early spring in eastern Pennsylvania. Please note that we have listed any known changes to park visiting procedures that are currently in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, however it is possible that additional changes will be implemented as the pandemic progresses. So checking the website and/or social media page(s) for the facility you will be visiting beforehand is always a good idea.
- The Saucon Rail Trail is a 7.5 mile trail in Hellertown borough, Lower Saucon Township, Upper Saucon Township and Coopersburg borough. There are plans for it to connect with the Upper Bucks Rail Trail, which is scheduled to be completed later this year.
- The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is a 165-mile multi-use trail that links historic canal and river communities in the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley and Bucks County. Note: Certain facilities associated with the trail are closed. Please see the D&L COVID-19 update to learn more.
- Hellertown borough parks including Dimmick Park and Water Street Park remain open for passive recreation, with social distancing required of visitors. Parks are open from dawn til dusk. All playgrounds and court facilities are closed until further notice.
- Lower Saucon Township parks including Polk Valley Park and Town Hall Park remain open for passive recreational use, with social distancing required of visitors. All playgrounds as well as the Polk Valley Dog Park are closed until further notice.
- City of Bethlehem parks remain open however the Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course, the Charles Brown Ice House, Illick’s Mill, the Skate Plaza and all bathroom facilities in public parks are closed. The Clubhouse Grille remains open for take-out business.
- City of Allentown parks remain open however all playgrounds, all basketball courts and the Dixon Street Dog Park are closed. All field and pavilion rentals are postponed.
- Lehigh County parks, open spaces and trails remain open for the public’s enjoyment, however all buildings and structures, including restrooms, in Lehigh County parks are closed to the public. All sports field, pavilion and grounds event permits are canceled until the resumption of public gatherings.
- Jacobsburg State Park in Bushkill Township, Northampton County, as well as other state parks remain open with some limitations on the use of their facilities in place. All trails, lakes, forests, roads and parking areas are open for passive and dispersed recreation, such as hiking. Boat launches and fishing are also open. All restrooms, cabins, campgrounds, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, offices, inns, lodges and shooting ranges are closed. Follow PA State Parks on Facebook for updates and additional information.
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is part of the National Park Service, remains open. However, some public facilities within the DWCNRA are currently closed. Those include all public restrooms, the Kittatinny Point and Dunfield Creek parking areas and boat launch, the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) trails and parking areas, Bushkill Meeting/Visitor Center and all volunteer-operated buildings. For more information on all national parks and their facilities, visit NPS.gov, where you can search for current closures and alerts by state, alert type and park. Visitors should note that the NPS is recommending that the public consider visiting the DWGNRA on a weekday, after most parking areas were filled to beyond capacity on Sunday.
- Ironton Rail Trail is open.
- A 27-mile section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Virginia has been closed due to heavy use, however most of the 2,200 mile trail remains open. According to a post on the trail’s Facebook page, “the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is announcing modifications to its operations in support of federal, state, and local efforts to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local communities. The decision aligns with state and local measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and guidance from the Centers for Disease COntrol and Prevention (CDC).”
- The Fountain Hill walking trail remains open. The borough’s playground and basketball court are closed.
So with the days getting longer and temperatures becoming milder every week, why not enjoy a walk in the fresh air while maintaining a safe distance from others? There is plenty of space locally in which to do that.
Note: A few park systems in our area are completely closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, including all Bucks County parks.