Social distancing doesn’t have to mean staying locked indoors for days on end. With parks still open and spring starting to, well, spring in Gaston County, now is an opportune time to check out any of the local parks.
Gaston County Parks and Recreation operates 18 parks, and the cities manage dozens of others. With each park offering something a little different — be it a chance to hike, lounging in front of a lake, or just enjoying a change in scenery — there’s something to do for just about everybody.
“The Gaston County Parks and Recreation staff is going above and beyond right now to clean our playgrounds and other hard surfaces at our parks twice a day in an effort to make them as safe as possible for the children of our county,” said Adam Gaub, public information officer.
Parks and Recreation staff have been working to put up signs warning the public that germs can live on surfaces for days. Staff are taking every precaution they can to keep parks safe, but it’s still up to the community as well to follow proper health procedures.
“While our parks remain open, our public health experts want to remind folks to be smart — practice social distancing in keeping six feet between yourself and another person, avoiding large groups and practicing good hygiene. It’s particularly important to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after coming into contact with equipment at any of our public parks,” he said.
That said, here are a few ways to make the most out of local parks responsibly:
Take a hike
Crowders Mountain State Park comes to mind when it’s time to hike, but residents have other options beyond the monadnock situated in South Gastonia.
The Carolina Thread Trail, a system of more than 260 miles of greenways, blueways and trails, has several connections in local parks, has several connections in Gaston County. A quick search on the organization’s website reveals 130 spots for walking, hiking, or running in and around the county.
Just to name a few, there is the Bessemer City Park Trail, the Goat Island Greenway at Cramerton’s Goat Island Park, the Catawba Riverfront Greenway in Tuckaseegee park, and the list goes on.
Group hikes around the area have been canceled, but individuals are still welcome to get a breath of fresh air out on the trails.
A waterfront view
Gaston County is home to several waterfront parks, like Goat Island Park, South Fork River Park, George Poston Park, Dallas Park, and Ken Loftin Riverfront Park, to name only a few. Water activities aren’t yet available at some locations (Rankin Lake, for example, won’t have regular boating and fishing until April), lakes and rivers can still be enjoyed.
They’re a great backdrop for a picnic with your family, or a solo outdoor yoga session.
Sometimes just getting out, taking a breath, and listening to the sound of the water is enough for other people.
Whether it’s with a book, yoga mat, or packed lunch, you don’t need a fishing pole or boat to get enjoyment out of the water.
There’s not as much buzz about this park, but Bessemer City is home to a pretty unique spot: The Lewis Brooks Airfield.
Located off of Biggerstaff Landfill Road, the airfield is built on top of a former landfill. This reclaimed property is a spot for radio controlled airplane enthusiasts to take off.
The miniature runway offers enough space for the community to earn their wings flying model airplanes, and is frequented by the Gaston County Remote Control Flying Club
That said, it’s important to give other park goers — whether at the airfield or anywhere else — plenty of space. With nicer weather approaching and an itch to get out of the house, an article by Richard J. Dolesh and Allison Colman of the National Parks and Recreation Association warns of an increase in parks across the country.
But with respect for others and the practice of social distancing and proper hygiene, Gaston County has enough outside areas for everyone to enjoy.
Reach reporter Brandy Beard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-869-1840.