PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland’s Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests, but during the pandemic, it’s getting a little too much love. That’s why the city has put in traffic controls on some of the hiking trails.
“Forest Park has seen an unprecedented level of use right now,” said Natural Area Supervisor Kendra Petersen-Morgan with Portland Parks and Recreation. “Our trails are pretty narrow, so it’s difficult to maintain six-foot physical distancing.”
This spurred the department to institute some changes. At the end of July, crews created three one-way trail loops to help keep hikers socially distant. The trails range from 1.25 to 4.75 miles.
“We enjoyed hiking the hills and the trails. Anything that keeps them open, I’m for,” said Doug Lito.
“I think they’re probably overkill if you’re outside and wearing a mask,” said hiker Ray Hennings.
Masks or face coverings are encouraged on the trails. When asked if Park Rangers will be monitoring the new trails and enforcing the one-way direction, Petersen-Morgan said, “People are not going to be cited. We are not going to be issuing tickets. We’re all adults here. I think the fundamental concept behind this is understandable and reasonable.”
Still, some people choose to go against the directional arrows posted in the park.
“If you see someone not going the right way on the trail, or doesn’t have a mask on, I think a simple, polite encouragement is great,” responded Petersen-Morgan. “But this is not a time we need to be shouting at each other about complying or not complying.”
The one-way loops cover about ten miles of the 80 miles of trails in the park, which means there are still 70 miles of trails that are not one-way. Those loops will be in place for the next 18-24 months.