Casey Schreiner, founder and editor-in-chief of, a premier hiking website, has been doing jumping jacks in his backyard.

When he returns to his computer from his at-home workouts, he gazes at posts of his favorite hiking spots, while slowly scrolling through pictures of last year’s Southern California super bloom.

“I won’t be hiking, which is hard for me,” he said Tuesday, March 24, saying the trails are too crowded and it has become next to impossible to practice social distancing to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has sickened hundreds in Southern California in recent weeks.

Schreiner, who edits the online hiking site that received 1.7 million views in 2019, and is the author of “Day Hiking Los Angeles,” said the previous weekend’s crowds on trails in the Santa Monica, San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, to name a few, have made his favorite activity unsafe for now.

Hiking closures a mixed bag

Indeed, outdoor agencies, cities, counties and the state are closing these green pastures since the first weekend after the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order took effect. What had been considered safe areas to bring families, walk dogs or just release stress by breathing in the outdoor air have become crowded places jammed with people, making it difficult to maintain the 6-foot distance public health officials say will help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“I was trying to take advantage of the outdoors (last week),” Schreiner said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t do it responsibly. Now I am listening to public officials who say not to go.”

The messaging on hiking in public areas, however, is unclear due to the myriad of jurisdictions sending out different orders. The state closed all parking lots to beaches and parks, for example. But most of the entrances to the national forests surrounding Southern California are open to vehicles, while many of the parking lots are closed.

“It’s very confusing to track down,” Schreiner said.

Jonathan Groveman, a media officer for the U.S. Forest Service, wrote in an email that the public should check with their local forest to ensure specific sites are open.

“We also recommend that potential visitors follow state and local guidelines regarding public and personal safety measures,” he wrote.

Here’s what is known as of Wednesday, March 25:

Regional parks and trails

The Mountains and Recreation Conservation Authority on Monday, March 23, closed all its parks and trails, located mostly in Los Angeles County. These are too numerous to name, but they include the Los Angeles River greenways, Ballona Creek Trail and Compton Creek Natural Park in the South Bay and the overlook above the Hollywood Bowl.

Most non-campground areas remained open in Inland Empire parks and recreation areas. But restrictions vary from park to park.

Parking lots at all Orange County beaches, regional parks and wilderness parks were closed beginning Wednesday, March 25, including parking spaces at all county trailheads in an effort to reduce large gatherings.

The city of Los Angeles has kept open most of its trails. But that could change.

National parks and forests

The National Park Service closed the popular Solstice Canyon Trail in Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas and Satwiwa Native American Culture Center in Newbury Park. On Wednesday, it extended closures to all parking areas in the vast Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The park is open to day-use walkers, hikers and bicyclists. For more information, call the SMMNRA at 805-370-2301.

Vehicles are not allowed to enter Joshua Tree National Park. Only walkers or bicyclists can visit the park, said Jenny Albrinck, park spokesperson. “We strongly caution that even if they do choose to walk in or bike in that they keep that 6-foot social distance,” she added.

All trails and all roads are open in the San Bernardino National Forest unless closed for storm damage or maintenance, said Zach Behrens, a forest spokesman. Visitors are advised to check the alerts and closures site. All offices and visitor centers are closed. For permits, maps and information, call 909-382-2600 during regular business hours.

Grays Peak Trailhead, the lower section of the Grays Peak Trail and Grout Bay Picnic Area are closed until July 31, 2020, to protect the bald eagle habitat. The Serrano Campground in the Big Bear area is closed due to COVID-19, Behrens said.

On the Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, the Chantry Flat area above Arcadia and Sierra Madre remains closed indefinitely until the stay-at-home order is lifted, said Ranger Dedrick Knox. The Chilao Visitor Center is closed, he said, while the entrance off Highway 39 above Azusa is open. All campgrounds and restrooms are closed on the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

“Trails are open unless they have been closed for other reasons,” Knox said. “The trailheads are hard to close.”

Cities such as Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Claremont and Glendora have closed entrances to national forest trailheads that begin in their jurisdiction. Schreiner said people jammed the Mount Wilson trail over the weekend; some tore down the signs. The city had to post police at the trailhead. Monrovia closed Canyon Park, which has trails including one leading to a waterfall, on Monday.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association, which includes parts of the 2,653-mile trail in the Angeles and San Bernardino forests, has urged hikers to cancel plans for hiking the trail, even portions traversed by day hikers.

State parks

About 40 out of 280 state parks have had their parking lots closed, said Holly Martinez, director of programs and advocacy for the California State Parks Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group.

A list of state parks closed to cars in Southern California includes only those in L.A. County, including Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, El Matador State Beach, Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu Creek State Park, Point Dume State Park, RH Meyer State Park, Topanga State Park, and Will Rogers State Historic Park.

Signs at Chino Hills State Park located between Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties, said the trails were closed. On Tuesday afternoon, however, many hikers were walking the trails, ignoring signs that read: “All trails and fire roads are closed.”

Too many people? Go home

“We encourage people to take outdoor breaks, either walking around your neighborhoods or going to your state parks,” Martinez said on Wednesday. “If people want to go out and enjoy nature, we say go but do it responsibly.”

She said if there’s a crowd or a parking lot is filled, turn around and go back home. On a trail, make sure you allow others to pass without getting more than 6 feet from them.

“Our worry is if people don’t do that, these places will be closed off even more,” she said. “If we repeat what we saw last weekend this coming weekend, we will see more severe closures.”

One way to enjoy a park’s greenery without going there is by sharing past photos of favorite parks on Instagram, Martinez said. “That can give you a quick reprieve,” she said.

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