The Appalachian Trail Conservancy issued a statement Monday, March 23, asking people to stay off the Appalachian Trail altogether. This includes day hikes and pertains to the full length of the trail.
The statement, issued by Sandi Marra, the ATC’s president and CEO, is making this request due to the lack of social distancing being practiced in popular regions of the trail.
In a time when social distancing is necessary to minimize the spread and contraction of a dangerous virus, many have escaped to nature seeking isolation and unpopulated spaces. On the Appalachian Trail, however, what they’ve found are trailhead parking lots exceeding their maximum capacities, shelters full of overnight hikers, day hikers using picnic tables and privies, and group trips continuing as planned. Popular spots along the Trail like Blood Mountain in Georgia, the McAfee Knob area in Virginia, and Annapolis Rocks in Maryland have seen day use reach record-breaking levels. Cars line the highways leading to popular day-hiking spots on the trail. Hiking the A.T. has become, in other words, the opposite of social distancing. – Sandi Marra
This comes six days after the ATC asked people to postpone their long-distance backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail, including those already out on the trail. This joins a very long list of closures on trail, in towns, and trail-related events.
In the statement, Marra added that the trail will not be closed as “(they) cannot physically bar access to trailheads or connecting trails.”
“There is an unfortunate truth about this virus: unless everyone is safe, no one is safe.”
You can find the full statement here.