Hanson Hills Recreation Area is open for outdoor activity
Local park’s trails and disc golf courses are open, but the playground and lodge are closed
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21 (also known as the Stay Home Stay Safe Executive Order), which went into effect last week, says that people must stay in their places of residence in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but one of the exceptions listed in the order allows for people “to engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household,” and Hanson Hills Recreation Area is open for people to do so.
Hanson Hills has a vast trail network for hiking and cycling, a softball field, two disc golf courses, and a kids’ fishing pond for people who’d like to get outside for some fresh air or exercise.
“Disc golf, the trails are open for use,” said Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority and Hanson Hills. “As far as the grounds and the trails and the softball fields, if people want to enjoy the outdoors they can do that at Hanson Hills.”
Andre said people must adhere to the social distancing guidelines outlined by the State of Michigan and other entities, staying at least six feet from others while using the outdoor facilities at Hanson Hills Recreation Area.
The playground at Hanson Hills, however, is closed in accordance with Centers for Disease Control recommendations. Also, the park currently does not have any bathroom facilities available outside or inside; the lodge is closed.
“I do not have any bathrooms at this time,” Andre said. “We’re trying to keep people off the playground.”
Andre said his office staff is working remotely, but he does have a maintenance person checking up on things “intermittently.”
“All my staff is working from home,” Andre said. “We’re still paying bills, still planning. We’re plugging along.”
With regard to its event schedule, Hanson Hills has had to cancel one event, and another one has been postponed to a later date.
Grayling Recreation Authority cancelled its Easter Eggstravaganza slated for Saturday, April 4.
“That was kind of out of our hands,” Andre said. “That event brings 200 or 300 people in close quarters. There was no way we could keep six feet between people. It was kind of decided for us.”
Andre said organizers had 6,000 plastic eggs to fill for this year’s Easter Eggstravaganza, 1,000 more than last year.
“We’ll hold onto them and have a big event next year,” Andre said.
Organizers of the Ragnar Michigan Trail Relay – an event that featured more than 1,100 competitors last year at Hanson Hills – moved the race from its original date of June 27-28 to September 4-5.
“They’re just being precautionary,” Andre said. “It’s a big event for us.”
“As far as mountain bike (events), that’s all still on schedule. We’ll see what April 13 brings,” Andre said.
(Executive Order 2020-21 is currently scheduled to expire on “April 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.”)
Andre said he’s concerned about the effect the coronavirus measures will have on the summer tourism season for the community, especially if the current school year is pushed back.
“I’m just wondering what this is going to do for the vacationers,” Andre said. “With school maybe delayed, what’s that going to do with travel, with the town, tourism?”
For now, Hanson Hills is available for people if they want to enjoy hiking, cycling, or disc golf.
“The hill is very much available for outdoor use,” Andre said.