With a great weather weekend on the way, our popular state parks will likely quickly reach capacity, especially with people taking advantage of the outdoors and spending time in nature now more than ever.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is encouraging residents to explore new parts of the state at a safe, social distance.
"We have so many people coming out and enjoying the parks which is on one hand fantastic and on another hand it is causing some difficulties,” explained Tom Tyler, the Director of State Parks. “And folks are in close proximity to one another if we didn't reduce capacities at some locations and people weren't really really diligent about social distancing."
We all have our go-to favorite spots, but with 142 state parks and forests across Connecticut covering 255,000 acres what better time to venture out and try somewhere new.
"I kind of joke if you've heard of a state park before don't go there go someplace else. Find a new one," said Tyler.
The state park and forest department makes it easy with an interactive map you can find on their website…and they encourage you to utilize that resource as even our smaller parks are quickly being discovered.
"The first couple of weeks of this stay at home effort we encouraged people to find those smaller lesser used places with more remote trailheads to take a hike and people have done that. They've done it to the nth degree a lot of those hidden gems and those smaller places are a great opportunity for folks to get out but they often have very limited resources."
Meaning limited parking, smaller trail heads, and they lack amenities like bathrooms -- things to keep in mind if you’re planning on venturing far away from home. And while this weekend is expected to be beautiful outside that can also mean higher crowds.
Tyler said, "On that rare sunny beautiful day so many people come out too many people come out."
Even though it is important to get outside and take advantage of the sunshine and soak in some Vitamin D, cloudy days are often times much less crowded.
"The key message for us is that people need to really take seriously social distancing make sure they're only close to immediate family members that they're already close to," Tyler said. "It's not an opportunity to meet up with people for the day or to congregate with friends at a location but really to come out and get that exercise, enjoy the outdoors but to do it in a safe way."
The state parks department is asking people to wear masks while they're enjoying the outdoors. For more information on our state parks and to check out the interactive trail map, just visit https://portal.ct.gov/NCLI/Parks/All-State-Parks.