Friday, March 27, 2020

Getting Out During Stay-At-Home: Everything You Need to Know

The first thing I did when the official “stay-at-home” order for Mecklenburg County was issued was to scroll through the mandate to see what it said about outdoor recreation. Relieved that "be in nature" was included in the "can" column, I started digging more into what options we have for enjoying fresh air while we remain in compliance with the order.

Here are some practical tips, guidelines and suggestions.

What's open and what's closed
The Mecklenburg County stay-at-home order gives explicit permission for taking walks, riding bikes, and generally being in nature for exercise as long as you keep six feet distance between yourself and others.

There's nothing saying you can't commute to a destination (say, a trailhead or greenway), but you might opt for something within walking distance, especially if the alternative is taking public transportation. Also, keep in mind that Mecklenburg County Park parking lots are now closed.

Mecklenburg County playgrounds are closed, as are restrooms (so plan outings accordingly). Also closed are all indoor facilities such as recreation, nature, and aquatic centers, as well as Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools playgrounds and parking lots.

But county parks, greenways, and nature preserves are open for public use, so long as you adhere to social distancing and refrain from congregating in groups larger than 10 (or three if you're in South Carolina).

Visit the Mecklenburg County Park and Rec site for the official policy and any updates.

Many North Carolina State Parks are closed (see a list of closed parks and any updates), which means those parks' trails are off limits, too. At the State Parks that remain open, all restroom facilities are closed (again, plan accordingly) and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. This includes your dog, which must be kept on a leash.

Things to do
Given all the closures and considerations above, here's where to look for local outdoor fun options:

The Carolina Thread Trail system, a comprehensive regional network of trails in North Carolina and South Carolina, remains open (see the CTT response and updates here), as do trails maintained by Tarheel Trailblazers.

If you want to find a nearby greenway, check out this helpful Charlotte Agenda article.

For bike rides, consider a greenway, the Charlotte Rail Trail or a city bike route. Bike riding conditions are really quite favorable with so many fewer cars on the roads these days.

Or just take a walk around your block or to pick up your groceries. Of course, I encourage you to check the rest of this site for other fun outings, too.

Don't let the walls close in, especially with springtime beckoning you to enjoy its beauty. Be safe, be careful, be responsible. But within the guidelines of the stay-at-home order, be in nature, and be glad that you can!


  1. Thank you, Lauren. We are in California, but your analysis and guidelines are as appropriate for us here as they are for you in N.C. A lot of people think this means staying inside. Literally. But that may mean LOSING YOUR MIND. And it certainly is not good for any BODY. Keep on keeping on! Love your posts.

  2. Agree! Thank you and best wishes as we adapt to this new normal for the time being. Keep on enjoying the fresh air and stay well -- in mind and body!