The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the organization that preserves and manages the Appalachian Trail, is asking the public to stay away amid the COVID-19 outbreak as crowding from day hikers reaches unmanageable levels. According to ATC, the trail has seen an increase in use over the past weekend with trailhead parking lots exceeding their maximum capacities, shelters full of overnight hikers, and group trips continuing as planned.
ATC President & CEO Sandra Marra is asking everyone to help stop the spread and protect the trail from overuse by staying off the trail until further notice. She notes that ATC staff and trail volunteers have been recalled from the trail and cannot maintain the footpath, trailheads, shelters and privies that may be heavily (or permanently) impacted by increased visitor use.
Some areas of the Appalachian Trail, like the boardwalk section in Vernon, are only wide enough to fit two people making it nearly impossible to practice social distancing. Since the ATC can not physically bar access to the trails, they're imploring that everyone take a walk around the block instead and stay home to minimize the spread or contraction of COVID-19.