Citing multiple trail closures with “no safe or reasonable detours” in addition to Arizona being a COVID-19 hotspot, the Arizona Trail Association is discouraging both thru-hikes and thru-rides on the Arizona Trail for the remainder of 2020.
Trail closures include:
- AZT Passages 10-12 through the Santa Catalina Mountains and Pusch Ridge Wilerness Bypass due to the Bighorn Fire which burned 120K acres in the Coronado National Forest.
- AZT Passages 20-21 through the Four Peaks and Mazatzal Mountains due to the Bush Fire.
- AZT Passage 42 north of Jacob Lake, due to the Mangum Fire which burned more than 70K acres in the Kaibab National Forest
This announcement comes just a few weeks after the closure of the southern terminus and the two southern most miles due to border wall construction.
According to the Arizona Trail Association’s Facebook post, more than 125 miles of the trail are closed and “are not expected to be safe to hike or ride again until 2021”.
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In addition to trail closures, Arizona has been one of the hardest hit states by coronavirus, accounting for the second most positive cases per capita in the United States, much of which has occurred since the start of July.
Arizona is no stranger to fires, and under normal circumstances, the ATA would be more inclined to help hikers and riders around the closures. This year is different:
Under normal circumstances, the ATA would help facilitate shuttles around closed segments of trail. However, asking volunteers, community members or commercial shuttle services to transport groups of people during the pandemic violates the ATA’s COVID-19 safety protocols. Hitchhiking, while legal in Arizona, also presents unnecessary risks to both trail user and driver due to the possibility of disease transmission while in a vehicle together.
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