AUGUSTA — The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands expects the popularity of its outdoor destinations to continue this spring, and urges guests to anticipate crowded parking areas and trailhead bottlenecks.

The bureau broke its record for recreation visits during 2020. Despite the pandemic, the State Park system welcomed a total of 3,067,112 people. During spring 2020, overcrowding and a lack of respect for COVID-19 guidance at the bureau’s 10 coastal beach state parks caused temporary closures.

The goal for spring 2021 is not to repeat the closure experience; with planning and cooperation, this goal should be achievable, officials say.

“A typical spring weekday includes plenty of parking and easy-to-navigate trailheads and trails,” bureau Director Andy Cutko said in an agency news release. “We’re thrilled that people are getting outside. At the same time, weekends during March, April, and May, especially when temperatures start creeping up, bring elevated attendance numbers and the need for everyone to be thoughtful about outdoor activities.”

Everyone venturing outdoors to Maine State Parks and Public Reserved Lands is reminded to keep these factors in mind:

• COVID-19 precautions, including physical distancing and face coverings, remain in effect; read the latest guidance. Remember to pack hand sanitizer.

• State park staffing is limited during the spring season, so be patient in parking areas and please comply with signage and respect staff requests.

• Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return.

• Have a backup plan. If your destination is crowded, utilize mainetrailfinder.com or consider visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Area or a less-trafficked state park, public reserved land, or local land trust.

• Park safely and legally and avoid muddy areas.

• Be prepared for outdoor vault toilets only, with no running water (use the bathroom before leaving home). Pack toilet paper and practice Leave No Trace, including cleaning up after your pet, so be sure to bring a disposable bag to carry out any waste.

• With colder temperatures forecasted, trails may be icy; prepare with proper footwear and gear.

• Get outside earlier or later in the day to avoid peak times, and keep visits brief.

• Stick to easy trails to avoid injuries and further stress on health care resources.

• And remember to take precautions to prevent exposure to ticks by wearing light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and applying EPA-approved bug repellent.

For more information, visit maine.gov/dacf/parks.

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