Hikers enjoy Rock Bridge State Park while social distancing on Labor Day

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COLUMBIA - Several residents and travelers came to the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park on Labor Day to enjoy the scenery and trails the park has to offer.

The parking lot was full at the Devil's Icebox trailhead. 

Visitors reported very little mask coverage but felt comfortable because they were outdoors and mostly able to distance.

Visitor Chuck Wilson said people were respectful on the trail. 

"Some people didn't have masks on, but they gave you a wide berth," Wilson said.

Visitors estimated there were between 50 and 100 people on the trail at any time in the afternoon.

Many families took advantage of the warm weather to enjoy a day outside before the start of Columbia Public Schools classes. Most did not wear masks but kept a good distance from others.

A point of concern for some hikers are the thin boardwalks that lead to the Devil's Icebox cave. At some points, the trail reaches a width of about two and a half feet.

One of the hikers wearing a mask was Chris Ferguson, who stopped with his wife while en route to Kansas City.

"I did have some apprehension about some congestion points," Ferguson said. "We put our masks on if there was a lot of people around."

The park dealt with some of the congested areas by designating a one-way system on the loop-style trail. The one-way area starts about halfway down the trail.

The pandemic made this Labor Day much different from years past. Gatherings are mostly limited to family members.

Wilson found the visit to the park to be a welcome change of pace.

"It certainly feels nice," Wilson said. "Everyone feels secluded and isolated, so it's certainly wonderful to get out and see other people but at a distance and feel safe about it."

The park's office was closed but recommended that people visit Rock Bridge's other parks to reduce the capacity at Devil's Icebox.