ATC Says It is Likely to Recommend AT Thru-Hikes Soon
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy said on Tuesday, June 16, that within the next few weeks it was likely to recommend that thru-hikers and all other hikers can return to the Appalachian Trail.
The ATC, in a statement here, said that with most of the AT reopened, the organization is nearing one of its criteria for advising that thru-hikers can return to the trail. Only 5.2 miles of the trail on Katahdin remain closed, and those are expected to open July 1.
The ATC said that the following complications remain:
Overnight camping : All of the AT in New Jersey and Massachusetts remains closed to overnight camping. All designated overnight sites remain closed in Vermont and New Hampshire with dispersed camping sites difficult to find. Additional sections of the AT in Maine and Pennsylvania remain closed to camping. Most shelters remain closed.
New COVID-19 infections: While most states are seeing a downward trend in COVID-19 cases, some states are still struggling with the pandemic. Currently, a required or recommended 14-day quarantine remains in place in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine for some or all visitors (with some caveats to shorten the quarantine length).
Volunteer maintenance: The trail is a volunteer-maintained resource and the ATC is waiting for the federal government to approve protocols and sign new agreements to send volunteers back to the trail. Volunteers have asked to catch up on maintenance and clean up before hikers are encouraged to hit the trail, and the ATC said it wants to honor that.
“Within the next few weeks, we believe it likely the ATC will recommend hikers, including thru-hikers, return to the trail assuming there are no significant negative changes in the current trends,” the ATC statement said.
“Once our recommendations change, thru-hikers can start or resume their hikes anywhere. We encourage thru-hikers to self-disperse, which will help minimize impacts to the trail and volunteers and help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. Also, thru-hikers who left the trail in March and stayed off to reduce the spread of the virus will have an additional 12 months to complete their thru-hikes once they resume their hikes, after we’ve given the okay to return. We emphasize all thru-hikers on the AT be as self-reliant as possible, staying away from shelters, privies, and other public facilities and carry a personal shelter, a bear canister, and equipment for proper catholing. Check our website for tips on thru-hiking and selecting a start location.”
The ATC said it would communicate updates as soon as decisions are made, and recommends monitoring its AT closures page and Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus New Case Trends By State.
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