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Southern California outdoors updates during coronavirus crisis

Information on how to get outdoors in Southern California during the coronavirus crisis

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis is fast evolving, so it's tough to keep track of what you can and can't do outdoors. Here we'll try to post updates as quickly as possible and point you to resources to help you enjoy the outdoors during this difficult time.

Updated April 1, 2020

City of San Diego

The City of San Diego will begin enforcing closures of all trails, parks, beaches, open spaces and lakes and reservoirs, issuing tickets to people who don't obey the closures. These include Mission Trails Regional Park, Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, Black Mountain Open Space Park, Lake Miramar, Lake Murray, Rose Canyon, Tecolate Canyon, Florida Canyon, Mission Bay, Balboa Park, Mount Woodson, Otay Lakes, Otay Valley Regional Park, to name a few.

The city has a list on its website of open space parks are managed by the city, and therefore closed.

The mayor closed parks, beaches and trails on March 23, after people swarmed beaches and parks and didn't abide by social distancing recommendations.

San Diego County parks and preserves remain open with the exception of Annie's Canyon Trail at San Elijo Lagoon, and Clemmens Lane. Most facilities and on-site amenities will be closed. County preserves that remain open include Sycamore Goodan Ranch, Santa Ysabel County Preserves and Ramona Grasslands. While the county website makes no mention of Penaquitos Canyon, it is jointing managed by the city and the county, so it's worth checking before heading there (its also recently been closed frequently due to rain).

Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County have closed all of its beaches in an effort to reduce crowds as officials try to enforce social-distancing guidelines to slow the spread of coronavirus. The order also applies to beach bike paths, bathrooms, piers and promenades.

The city closed the trails in Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon (about 53 miles of popular trails). Then on Friday, March 17, the city posted a statement on its website that says "all public hiking trails and trailheads in the City of Los Angeles are closed." That was a more severe restriction than outlined earlier in the week, but seems to be in line with what San Diego did.

You can keep up with the latest updates on the city's parks and trails status here.

Los Angeles County has also closed all public trails and trailheads, beaches, piers, beach bike paths and beach access points in LA County through April 19.

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority closed all parks, trails and building facilities, including public restrooms, until further notice. This includes all parks that are owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

State Parks

California State Parks announced on March 30 that it had closed vehicle access at ALL 280 state parks and was fully closing others, meaning all trails and restrooms are closed. For the latest information and updates on park access, visit the state parks' COVID-19 resource page.

A list of all park that have been fully closed can be found here. For parks that ahave limited vehicle access but not close completely, you can still go on the beaches and trails, you just have to walk or bike top them.

The park service has temporarily closed all campgrounds in the state park system. Camping reservation holders will be contacted via email for refunds.

The park services has closed all high public use indoor facilities including visitor centers, museums and cafes, and temporarily suspended all tours and events. All non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open.

Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing and maintain at least six feet between other visitors and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Restrooms also remain open, and visitors are advised to take soap for hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available.

Visit webites for these parks for more info. Popular areas include:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Cuyamaca Rancho State park
Palomar Mountain State Park

National Parks

National parks in Southern California are mostly closed to visitors with facilities are shuttered.Joshua Tree, Sequoia & Kings Canyon and Cabrillo National Monument are completely closed to the public.

Death Valley is still open to cars and a couple of gas stations remained open at the time this is being written. The parks trails are still open and backpacking and dispersed roadside camping is allowed. The Oasis, Stovepipe, and Panamint Springs are open. Take-out food, camping, and lodging are available at Panamint Springs Resort. Check the parks website, linked below, for the latest info.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area has closed all parking areas to vehicles and would stop issuing permits and leading public programs. As of March 28, 2020, all trails & restrooms in the recreation are closed to the public. More info here.

Visit webites for these parks for more info. Popular areas include:

Cabrillo National Monument
Death Valley National Park
Joshua Tree National Park Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

National Forests, National Monuments and Wilderness area

The U.S. Forest Service campgrounds, picnic areas and other developed recreation sites are closed in forests statewide until at least April 30, including Cleveland, Angeles, San Bernardino and Los Padres forests, which cover a large swath of Southern California. Cleveland National Forest has also shut down the Three Sisters Falls and Cedar Creek Falls trails in San Diego County due to overcrowding.

"While designated recreation sites will be closed, the general Forest area including the extensive trail system will remain open and available to the public," forest officials said in a statement. "Hiking and walking outdoors are widely considered beneficial to maintaining one’s health. It is the intent of USDA Forest Service to maintain trail access to the extent practicable."

BLM which manages federal wilderness areas is temporarily restricting in-person public access to visitor centers and public rooms in its California offices. Please check with individual offices regarding customer services available by phone or email.

Visitors may continue to enjoy BLM trails and open space areas. Please check with local offices before you go. Visit the BLM website for a complete list of contact information for various local offices.

BLM is encouraging visitors are encouraged to “pack it in and pack it out” as future trash pick up may be limited due to limited staff availability in some areas.

Visit webites for these destinations for more info. Popular areas include:

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Aviod Travel to At-Risk Backcountry Areas

Given the governor's recent mandate for everyone to shelter-in-place to encourage social distancing, its best to avoid travel during this period, even to backcountry areas. Places like Julian, Bishop, Borrego Springs and other areas often have a high proportion of older residents who are at particular risk to the virus and limited medical facilities.

It's best to stay local if your going to get outside, keep your distance from other people and take it easy so you don't get hurt - medical facilities are likely to be overburdened in coming weeks. Unfortunately, many local parks, beaches and trails have been closed, as many people where crowding these areas and not abiding by social distancing protocols. See below for recent updates on what's closed.

We're still parsing what it means for visiting parks and enjoying outdoor activities. Please err on the side of caution when considering whether to get outdoors. We will continue adding to this page as more information becomes available.