[Update] Appalachian Trail Now Open on Katahdin; Baxter Requires Quarantine or COVID Test for Most Non-Residents
(Updated 6 a.m. MT July 2) The Appalachian Trail on Mount Katahdin is now open, but most non-residents will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test or self-quarantine for 14 days before visiting Baxter State Park.
The park, home to Katahdin and the AT’s Northern Terminus, announced its COVID guidelines here. The park also has FAQs here. Baxter announced on Facebook that all Katahdin trails, with the exception of Dudley, are open as of July 1.
The park is advising visitors to bring hand sanitizer and face masks.
All park visitors must carry a mask or cloth face covering, and wear it whenever it’s not possible to maintain physical distancing guidelines of six feet, including when passing other hikers along the trail, the park said.
The park issued its guidelines as some NOBO AT hikers are finishing at Katahdin, and SOBO hikers are starting or preparing their hike from Katahdin. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy said it was considering recommending thru-hikes again as some of its COVID criteria for hiking the trail are met.
Non-residents are advised to quarantine for 14 days or have a negative COVID test within 72 hours before visiting the park. Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey residents are excluded from those guidelines because of the states’ low COVID case rate.
Baxter said that visitors can be tested in Maine, but must quarantine outside the park until they have received test results.
The park’s guidelines are in line with those issued by Maine Gov. Janet Mills. Read the guidelines here.
Earlier in June Baxter State Park said it would require a negative COVID test for out-of-state overnight visitors to the park, in line with Maine guidelines, but then replaced that statement with more general guidelines. After a meeting of the park’s governing authority a new statement was posted June 15 on the park’s website.
The park opened its Togue Pond and Matagamon gates from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for vehicle access on the Tote Road starting June 15.
The Maine Appalachian Trail Club posted on Facebook that it would resume trail work “depending on the location and volunteer resources. We are slowly getting out where we can. Thanks for your patience!”
Earlier the club warned that because of COVID the trail is not being maintained and numerous blowdowns are likely. The MATC also advised hikers not to use shelters and privies, and to provide their own shelter and bury human waste if they use the trail.
Starting July 1, Maine guidelines require out-of-state residents to get a negative COVID test within 72 hours before visiting Maine or self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Maine. New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey residents are excluded.
Out-of-state visitors will be expected to provide proof of a negative test to check in “at all Maine lodging, campgrounds, seasonal rentals, and other commercial lodging, such as Airbnb. Visitors may be asked to furnish proof of the negative test result upon request,” according to guidelines from Mills.
Baxter asked that visitors take the following precautions.
Monitor your own health. If you are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, please don’t visit the park.
Practice six-foot physical distancing. Where this is not possible, don a face covering. Keep your mask with you–passing people on the trails will put you in close proximity.
Practice good hand hygiene. Bring your own hand sanitizer and use it before and after interacting with surfaces in the park including outhouses, trail registers, and picnic tables.
Do not take outsized risks. Outdoor adventures need to be safe. Accidents on the trail and in the woods create unnecessary strain on our first-responders.
Baxter said it would take to following precautions to protect visitors:
Disinfect high touch areas. Roadside outhouses will be disinfected at least twice a day, and more frequently where they are more heavily used. High touch areas within cabins will be disinfected after each party. The park will not be disinfecting canoes, paddles, and lifejackets, lean-tos, picnic tables, or signs along the trail.
Reduce overall day use capacity. To allow for visitors to maintain physical distancing at high traffic areas, such as Katahdin trailheads, day use capacity across the park will be reduced.
Provide reminders along the way. The park is working to get the word out to all potential visitors before they come to the park and once they arrive. Because so much of the ability to mitigate the risk of viral transmission is up to individuals, thepark said it is paramount that everyone keeps informed of the risks.
Baxter State Park is run by the Baxter State Park Authority, and is not a state or federal park.
Featured photo courtesy of Victor “Hipcat” Perrotti
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