Appalachian Trail Workers Get ATC Approval to Resume Maintenance

Volunteer trail workers have been given the go-ahead by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to resume maintenance on the Appalachian Trail, months after trail work was suspended in late March because of COVID-19.

The ATC said in a post here on Friday, June 26, that trail maintainers would be expected to follow health and safety guidelines set by the National Park Service and the ATC.

The ATC statement on trail work came more than a week after the trail organization said here that it was likely within the next few weeks to recommend that thru-hikers and all other hikers can return to the AT “assuming there are no significant negative changes in the current (COVID) trends.”

Access to the trail has reopened gradually in past weeks, and only 5.2 miles of the trail on Katahdin remain closed. Trails to the Katahdin summit are expected to open July 1, with park visitors expected to follow Maine’s COVID guidelines. Read the park’s statement here.

The Green Mountain Club on Friday, June 26, reopened shelters and privies on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont. The club said in a statement here that the shelters and privies would not be maintained by caretakers.

The ATC advised hikers that the trail has not been monitored or maintained for weeks, and sections could be bushy or overgrown, downed trees could block the trail, and heavy rain may have caused erosion.

Overgrown areas are also considered high risk for ticks. And hikers are cautioned to be aware of weakened trees or dead branches overhead that could fall in camping areas.

The ATC still advises hikers not to use shelters and privies along the trail. More than 200 shelters and privies are still closed by land management agencies, and maintainers have been asked to postpone cleaning these structures until further notice.

Hikers who encounter downed trees or other trail problems are asked to email [email protected] describing the exact location and the type of maintenance needed.

Featured photo courtesy of High Five.

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Comments 2

  • Richard Taylor : Jun 27th

    Does the ATC even REALLY have such authority? I understand they have “oversight” of the trail clubs, but legally I do not believe they can keep a volunteer off the trail anymore than they can keep a hiker off the trail? Is this incorrect? It seems the ATC wants people to think they have more actual authority than they do and instead of spending funds on the trail they are doing so on legal and political activities…

    Any elaboration on this, or do we need a magazine that can give editorial opinions etc and arent afraid of the ATC.?

    • John : Jun 27th

      In a word, no. I’ve been doing trail maintenance as I’ve been hiking the AT when the land managers had reopened the trail lands, observing social distancing and using a face covering – all while the ATC had “shut down” the trail. I even did a bit of impromptu bear safety and LNT education for new hikers while out for hikes.

      Read their charter, ATC is basically a lobbying organization that does some coordination of work that others do to maintain the trail. ATC senior management is also paid like K Street lobbyists. Read their 990s to see where the dollars go. Some of these local trail organizations are just as bad. An example in my area is the NY NJ Trail Conference and it’s ossified (and very expensive) senior management. They
      are far better in marketing themselves than actually doing anything meaningful for the trail. I give a ton of credit to those that actually maintain trails, but ATC and NYNJTC are examples of expensive overhead with minimal return.


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