Long-distance Appalachian Trail hikers recommended to hold off on hike until 2022

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 5:31 PM EST
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - During the pandemic, many people are looking for activities they can do outdoors, but one organization is asking hikers to hold off on their plans.

The Appalachian Trail is open for day use in all areas, but the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is recommending that long-distance hikers postpone their trip until 2022.

The recommendation comes out of caution from the ATC, due to differing travel restrictions state to state and the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“I know a lot of the hikers and through hikers are... They’re confused and disappointed,” Chuck Walker, Owner of Rockfish Gap Outfitters, said. “What better place to be than on the Appalachian? You got 2,100 miles of 6-foot sections.”

Walker noted that a huge number of Appalachian Trail hikers usually make a stop in town.

“They come in and they come to Rockfish to resupply, they shop at Kroger, they eat in our restaurants,” Walker said.

And not having them come through would impact business greatly.

“It’s a major part of our summer business. May and June, July are all typically very big months for us,” Walker said.

For those people who do still plan to hike the trail this year, the ATC says you should register your hike online to help avoid large crowds and make sure you always have a mask handy.

“You come to a big crowd, walk around them. Just drop down off the trail and go around them and move on,” Walker said.

The ATC is anticipating the trail will be more crowded this year with new hikers and those resuming their journey from 2020.

All shelters on U.S. Forest Service Land in some states, including Virginia, are closed, so if you are hiking, it’s best if you bring your own shelter, like a tent, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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