There is a sigh of relief in the air. Spring has finally arrived in Oswego County, the region is in the first phases of COVID-19 reopening, and people are looking for places to explore the outdoors.
Dave Turner, Director of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, reminds residents that they can plan hikes on local trails and track their progress using geotagged photos of trail landmarks on an interactive map developed by the county.
“Oswego County is blessed with an amazing variety of state forestland, wildlife management areas and public parks,” Turner said. “If you have a cellphone or tablet, we encourage you to use the geocoded trail map developed by our department a few years ago. The map displays nearly 200 miles of multi-use trails and roads in natural areas across Oswego County. We still need to follow social distancing guidelines and be respectful of others’ health and safety, and we have plenty of places to be able to do that right here in our county.”
The project was developed by county Planning and Tourism staff with assistance and guidance from the Oswego County Health Department. Nearly 200 miles of trails were recorded using GPS coordinates and illustrated with photos identifying trailheads, landmarks and various other features.
“The map tool is easy to navigate, identifies parks and trails and includes data and graphics to display geographic information. The platform can be easily shared with others over social media,” Turner said.
Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said fears about COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on people of all ages.
“It’s important to set aside time for activities that you enjoy,” Huang said. “Getting outdoors for a short walk, jog, bike ride, or to explore a new hiking trail can help to reduce stress and anxiety. No matter how or where you plan to enjoy the outdoors, pack a mask and wear it in parking lots, in crowded areas, and anywhere else you meet people in public places.”
New York state residents and visitors are required to wear masks in public when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained, including on trails and in the backcountry.
Turner reminds people to follow common-sense guidelines when hiking: Tell someone else where you are going and when you expect to return; stay on the trail; carry a detailed map of the area; bring extra water and snacks; carry a whistle, flashlight and extra batteries; and check carefully for ticks when you return.
New York State DEC and State Parks encourage residents and visitors to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
n Stay local: Stay close to home. Keep visits short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.
n Be safe: Avoid crowds and groups. Recreate only with members of your immediate household. Keep a distance of six feet or more from others. Alert others as you’re about to pass, or step aside to let people pass. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing.
n Be ready: Move quickly through parking lots, trailheads and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit.
n Stay home: If not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their visit.
For additional information on Oswego County parks and trails, visit http://visitoswegocounty.com/the-great-outdoors/ or call the Oswego County Tourism Office at 1-800-248-4FUN (4386).