UPDATED: Which Delaware Valley parks and trails are open?

An inviting trail at Palmyra Cove Nature Park in Burlington County, New Jersey in May 2019. The cove is closed to the public, as are all New Jersey state and county parks, as of Gov. Phil Murphy’s April 7 order. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

(Note: This article last updated 5/22/20. Readers should verify a park or trail’s status before visiting.)

With the novel coronavirus threatening residents of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, officials initially had to close or restrict many public spaces to protect public health. However, through the month of May, many re-opened. Below is a list of what is currently open to the public, and which restrictions remain in place.

If conditions don’t match what’s in this article, or if there are specifics to know, please feel free to email me at Kyle@delvaloutdoors.com.

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15 within 15: Running River to River in Philly

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge as seen from Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown, Philadelphia, on May 15, 2020. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

15 minutes.

That’s the driving distance limit still being championed for outdoor recreation under the novel coronavirus, by entities such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The idea is to stay near home and limit the spread of the disease by decreasing community-to-community infection. But it’s a tough pill to swallow. Those not blessed to be immediately adjacent to their favorite recreational spots might not have much recreational opportunity within a quarter of an hour. I know it’s put my plans on hold: a guys’ trip to the Poconos in early May was cancelled, planned visits to new state parks in northwest and southwest Pennsylvania are delayed, and a goal to visit Acadia National Park by the end of the year is up in the air.

Nevermind my usual trips from Philly to campgrounds like French Creek and trail networks like Hawk Mountain.

But, I’ve decided to give it a go. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do 15 outdoor activities within 15 minutes (maybe a few extra depending on the red lights!) to see how it feels. I’m trying to approach this with what some call “beginner’s mind.” Looking carefully for nature and taking it slow in places I may have only sped through before. But I also plan to turn it up a notch from time to time: Can I get my vigorous exercise and strenuous accomplishment kicks within 15 minutes of home?

We’ll see.

Activity 5: Running river to river through Philly

I used to hate running. Like, only a little over a year ago.

Wrestling was my sport through school, and when I dabbled in others it was usually something more dynamic and head-to-head. Running was always a chore, something coaches would force you to do at practice as a part of getting in better shape for the real competition.

Believe it or not, that all changed with a wristwatch. I received one with GPS-functionality as a birthday gift, with the idea I’d use it for hiking and backpacking, to keep track of my mileage and my location. Then one day I used it for one of the rare, short runs I’d do just for the hell of it. I was curious about how quickly I could do a mile or two.

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15 WITHIN 15: Trail running the Wissahickon

A downed tree creates a welcoming tunnel to the trails of Wissahickon Valley Park in northwest Philadelphia, on a beautiful early May day. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

15 minutes.

That’s the driving distance limit still being championed for outdoor recreation under the novel coronavirus, by entities such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The idea is to stay near home and limit the spread of the disease by decreasing community-to-community infection. But it’s a tough pill to swallow. Those not blessed to be immediately adjacent to their favorite recreational spots might not have much recreational opportunity within a quarter of an hour. I know it’s put my plans on hold: a guys’ trip to the Poconos in early May was cancelled, planned visits to new state parks in northwest and southwest Pennsylvania are delayed, and a goal to visit Acadia National Park by the end of the year is up in the air.

Nevermind my usual trips from Philly to campgrounds like French Creek and trail networks like Hawk Mountain.

But, I’ve decided to give it a go. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do 15 outdoor activities within 15 minutes (maybe a few extra depending on the red lights!) to see how it feels. I’m trying to approach this with what some call “beginner’s mind.” Looking carefully for nature and taking it slow in places I may have only sped through before. But I also plan to turn it up a notch from time to time: Can I get my vigorous exercise and strenuous accomplishment kicks within 15 minutes of home?

We’ll see.

Activity 4: Trail running at Wissahickon Valley

Just two “outings ago,” I went to Wissahickon Valley Park in northwest Philadelphia to fish. I wrote in that post that the Wissahickon has easily become my favorite spot for outdoor recreation in the city over the past 10 years, and that’s obviously evident by my returning so soon.

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15 WITHIN 15: Kayaking the Schuylkill Off Kelly drive

Looking south down the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, at the approaching Strawberry Mansion Bridge. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

15 minutes.

That’s the driving distance limit being championed for outdoor recreation under the novel coronavirus, by entities such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The idea is to stay near home and limit the spread of the disease by decreasing community-to-community infection. But it’s a tough pill to swallow. Those not blessed to be immediately adjacent to their favorite recreational spots might not have much recreational opportunity within a quarter of an hour. I know it’s put my plans on hold: a guys’ trip to the Poconos in early May was cancelled, planned visits to new state parks in northwest and southwest Pennsylvania are delayed, and a goal to visit Acadia National Park by the end of the year is up in the air.

Nevermind my usual trips from Philly to campgrounds like French Creek and trail networks like Hawk Mountain.

But, I’ve decided to give it a go. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do 15 outdoor activities within 15 minutes (maybe a few extra depending on the red lights!) to see how it feels. I’m trying to approach this with what some call “beginner’s mind.” Looking carefully for nature and taking it slow in places I may have only sped through before. But I also plan to turn it up a notch from time to time: Can I get my vigorous exercise and strenuous accomplishment kicks within 15 minutes of home?

We’ll see.

Activity 3: Kayaking the Schuylkill River

Since purchasing my first kayak a few years back, the free boat launches along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia have been my go-to spot. I’m still very green when it comes to kayaking, putting in at perhaps only about a dozen or so bodies of water. I’ve been a few prettier places, but the Schuylkill River between Conshohocken and the Art Museum is actually a very beautiful and fun place to kayak, particularly when the weather has been dry and the river is running calm and clear.

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DELVAL OUTDOORS NEWS ROUNDUP, APRIL 26, 2020

Yup, it’s that time of year: baby goslings. These fluffballs were spotted near the Delaware River on the beautiful spring day of April 25, 2020. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

For anyone following this news roundups on a regular basis, I apologize that it’s been a week since the last update. DelVal Outdoors is a side project of mine, and the daytime gig at the USA Today Network kind of turned into a round-the-clock job covering COVID-19 this week, so I wasn’t able to get to as many roundups as I would have liked.

Will try to do better in the future!

But enough about me. Plenty of environmental news to catch up on:

This week’s headlines and highlights

Let’s start with this op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, asking “Is it time to reopen New Jersey Parks?

I’ve been seeing an increasing amount of chatter online about the impacts of Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision earlier this month to completely close state and county parks. While townships were left to make their own decisions, many also shuttered their parks and trailheads, leaving basically no access for residents to recreate nearby, taking off even the simple joy of taking a dog for a walk at the nature trail down the street. All in the name of public health, which makes a certain amount of sense.

But with additional anecdotes of New Jersey license plates showing up at parks just across the PA border– such as the Delaware Water Gap– and reporting elsewhere suggesting the virus transmits poorly outside, I personally am really starting to question the cost-benefit ratio of such a complete shutdown. The Inquirer op-ed further makes the case with scientific arguments.

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15 WITHIN 15: Fishing the Wissahickon

The Wissahickon Creek as seen before the start of a fishing session on April 19, 2020. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

15 minutes.

That’s the driving distance limit being championed by an increasing number of groups, including the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for outdoor recreation under the novel coronavirus.

The idea is to stay near home and limit the spread of the disease by decreasing community-to-community infection. But it’s a tough pill to swallow: those not blessed to be immediately adjacent to their favorite recreational spots might not have much recreational opportunity within a quarter of an hour. I know it’s put my plans on hold: a guys’ trip to the Poconos in early May is off, planned visits to new state parks in northwest and southwest Pennsylvania delayed, and a goal to visit Acadia National Park by the end of the year is up in the air.

Nevermind my usual trips from Philly to campgrounds like French Creek and trail networks like Hawk Mountain.

But, I’ve decided to give it a go. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do 15 outdoor activities within 15 minutes (maybe a few extra depending on the red lights!) to see how it feels. I’m trying to approach this with what some call “beginner’s mind.” Looking carefully for nature and taking it slow in places I may have only sped through before. But I also plan to turn it up a notch from time to time: Can I get my vigorous exercise and strenuous accomplishment kicks within 15 minutes of home?

We’ll see.

Activity 2: Fishing the Wissahickon in northwest Philly

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Where can I kayak in the Delaware Valley under COVID-19?

Kayaking the Delaware Water Gap in late summer 2019. Several launch points remain open under COVID-19, but the recreation area has closed overnight campsites. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

(Note: This article last updated 4/19/20. Readers should verify a waterway’s status before visiting.)

As spring temperatures rise, so too does the desire to canoe and kayak. But under the novel coronavirus, big paddles are off. The Schuylkill River Sojourn has been postponed, while the Delaware River Sojourn is in wait-and-see mode, pushing back its opening registration date to May 1.

Elsewhere, many parks, waterways, and launch points are closing, including in all state and county parks in New Jersey.

But for some in the Delaware Valley, there’s good news: state parks and their waterways remain open, and a few select counties also have accessible waterways. Paddling on the Schuykill and Delaware Rivers, as long as accessed through an open boat ramp, is also still allowed.

Please note that almost all Parks & Recreation agencies are calling for extreme caution, encouraging recreation be kept within 15 minutes of home and social distancing guidelines be observed. Also, several officials noted that there may be decreased vigilance as park offices are closed and staffing curtailed. In many places, paddling will be riskier than normal.

Check out our list below to see what remains open.

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DELVAL OUTDOORS NEWS ROUNDUP, APRIL 18, 2020

Flowers flash their colors through the fence of Greensgrow Fams in Philadelphia. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

Is our middling spring weather a blessing or a curse? This weekend is perfectly “meh,” with unreliable intervals of sunshine coupled with temps hovering around 50 degrees. Then, mostly rain and cooler temps forecasted at least until next weekend.

On one hand, I yearn for those warm, glorious spring days to arrive. On the other, the lack of ideal outdoor recreation weather makes me a little less glum about not being able to hit the trails and campgrounds like I normally would be.

Today’s headlines and highlights

A few days worth of news to catch up on.

Let’s start with a dose of good news, as the Bucks County Courier Times’ James McGinnis reports that the Bucks County park system will re-open to residents on Monday. It wasn’t quite clear what the status of the park system was before, but officials are officially giving the OK for residents to return as long as they practice safe social distancing.

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15 within 15: A walk around my philly Neighborhood

The muscovy duck at Greensgrow Farms in Kensington. A highlight of any nature-lover’s stroll around the neighborhood. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

15 minutes.

That’s the driving distance limit being championed by an increasing number of groups, including the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for outdoor recreation under the novel coronavirus.

The idea is to stay near home and limit the spread of the disease by decreasing community-to-community infection. But it’s a tough pill to swallow: those not blessed to be immediately adjacent to their favorite recreational spots might not have much recreational opportunity within a quarter of an hour. I know it’s put my plans on hold: a guys’ trip to the Poconos in early May is off, planned visits to new state parks in northwest and southwest Pennsylvania delayed, and a goal to visit Acadia National Park by the end of the year is up in the air.

Nevermind my usual trips from Philly to campgrounds like French Creek and trail networks like Hawk Mountain.

But, I’ve decided to give it a go. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do 15 outdoor activities within 15 minutes (maybe a few extra depending on the red lights!) to see how it feels. I’m trying to approach this with what some call “beginner’s mind.” Look carefully for nature and take it slow in places I may have only sped through before. But I also plan to turn it up a notch from time to time: Can I get my vigorous exercise and strenuous accomplishment kicks within 15 minutes of home?

We’ll see.

Read More

DELVAL OUTDOORS NEWS ROUNDUP, APRIL 14, 2020

The moon (rises, sets?) over the Wissahickon Creek on the early morning of April 12, 2020. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

Today brings a fine spring day: mostly sunny skies with temperatures over 50 degrees by morning and adding a few more into the afternoon. Looks like the first of a string of three such days, which are perfect for a just slightly bundled walk, hike, or bike ride.

Today’s headlines and highlights

Let’s start in New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy’s order to shutdown all state and county parks still stands after a week. Radio station New Jersey 101.5 reports that yesterday, some Republicans members of the state Assembly made a push to pass a resolution urging Murphy to rescind the order, calling it a well-intentioned mistake. Assemblyman Jay Webber, from Morris County, didn’t throw any bombs in making the push, instead arguing that other policy options like shuttering only some parks or closing them to out of state visitors would be a better option.

Democrats didn’t buy, shutting down the push in a procedural vote, 52-27. Later in the day, NJDEP commissioner Catherine McCabe released a statement that appeared aimed at offering an empathetic response to those wanting to see parks re-open while still reinforcing the closure.

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