Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Director Rachelle Curran Apse’s children, Mara and Tobin, work on a wildlife scavenger hunt at Mill Brook Preserve. Courtesy photo

WESTBROOK— While people are cooped up and social distancing, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is working let people know what trails can provide.

With over seven miles of trails and a number of trail heads, local hiking spots are a good way to get some education and exercise while maintaining social distance, Land Trust Director Rachelle Curran Apse said.

“My focus is to encourage the many families like mine who now are juggling homeschooling and working to consider taking field trips during the week to outdoor spaces as part of outdoor learning, and to enjoy the outdoors,” she said.

Curran Apse has been taking her own school age children onto the trails throughout the week. They enjoy nature scavenger hunts and creating math lessons with objects they find.

“(On Friday) within minutes we discovered deer tracks and like detectives followed the tracks. At the first trail junction everyone spent time learning to read the map. Once oriented, the kids started a scavenger hunt. By the river we read a story about a grandmother hiking the Appalachian Trail. In total we spent about two hours, walking about two miles, with breaks for snacks and learning throughout. We had the whole trail to ourselves,” she said.

The trails provide a whole new world, very different from “your paved neighborhood,” she said.

“Even at this time of year you see wildlife that you never see near your house. I think that’s really helpful to help us appreciate life and whats around us, and to inspire an appreciation in a time where there’s a lot of stress and chaos,” she said.

It’s easy on the trials to follow CDC guidelines of keeping a 6-foot distance between yourself and others and to not congregate in groups larger than 10.

“The thing with the trail, if a head is busy, there are many within a 15 minute drive, but also if you have some boots, the forest is limitless and you can walk a bit on the side of the trail to avoid anyone,” Curran Apse said.

While hiking provides an easy way to socially distance while getting out, City Health Officer Andrew Turcotte, also the fire chief, still encourages social distancing vigilance while on trails.

“Pick trail networks that provide for social distancing.  Keep it as you walk, run, bike or hike,” Turcotte said.

Signal other hikers of your presence as you approach them, either by calling out to them or with a bell or horn, he said. Keep a proper distance when passing others and step off the trail to let others pass safely.

and allow a proper distance when passing othersAlso, warn other trail users of your presence, and as you pass allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times,” Turcotte said.

Rachelle Curran Apse’s children, Mara and Tobin, at the beginning of their hike last week. Courtesy photo

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