Stay Safe and Healthy

Responding to COVID-19

Learn how ATC is working to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on the Appalachian Trail. View the latest updates and download guides on how to best prevent contracting this dangerous virus.

ATC President & CEO asks all A.T. visitors to postpone their hikes until further notice due to COVID-19 risks.

The Appalachian Trail, given its ever-increasing popularity over the past weeks, is no longer a viable space to practice social distancing. Read the letter from ATC President & CEO Sandra Marra asking all hikers to postpone A.T. hikes of any length until further notice.
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Latest Updates

March 28, 2020: Effective immediately, the National Park Service is closing all overnight shelters (56 total) and privies (75 total) on land administered by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office in the states of VA (11 shelters, 12 privies), MD (1 shelter, 2 privies), PA (8 shelters, 6 privies), NJ (1 shelter, 1 privy), NY (5 shelters, 5 privies), CT (7 shelters, 16 privies), MA (1 shelter, 4 privies), and ME (22 shelters, 29 privies). Click here for more information.

March 28, 2020: The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina, and the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee are temporarily shutting down trailhead facilities and other access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to prevent groups from congregating and to protect public health and safety. Click here for more information.

March 24, 2020: A list of current Trail closures, including parks, events, businesses and hiker support services, has been added to this page. You can view this by clicking the appropriate tile in the section below or by clicking here.

March 23, 2020: The Appalachian Trail, given its ever-increasing popularity over the past weeks, is no longer a viable space to practice social distancing. Read the letter from ATC President & CEO Sandra Marra asking all hikers to postpone A.T. hikes of any length until further notice.

 

Wellness Guidelines & Trail Closures

View and download information on how to reduce your risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, both on the Appalachian Trail and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are currently updating this section to reflect the guidelines listed above and to include a range of questions about COVID-19’s effects on the Appalachian Trail and its communities of hikers, volunteers, and supporters. If you have an immediate question, please send an email to [email protected].

Updated 3.24.20

What is COVID-19 / "coronavirus" and how is it spread?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.”

 

To view other information about COVID-19, visit https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 / "coronavirus"?

Initial symptoms of COVID-19 appear between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. However, some may experience more severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. Those who experience any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

 

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

How is COVID-19 / "coronavirus" spread?

Scientists are still studying all of the ways in which COVID-19 spreads. Currently, it is known to spread in the following ways:

 

Person-to-Person

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Contact with contaminated surfaces or objects:

  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

 

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html

How contagious is COVID-19 / "coronavirus"?

The CDC states that COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community in some affected geographic areas. While the virus is most contagious when infected persons are most symptomatic, some spread might be possible before people show symptoms of being sick. Some people become infected and can transmit the virus but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

 

As of March 24, 2020, the CDC lists more than 44,100 reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States alone, with over 500 total deaths.

 

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html

Is it safe for me to hike on the Appalachian Trail?

Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, the difficulty of maintaining adequate social distancing on many sections of the Trail, and the possibility of the virus staying on frequently used surfaces like shelters, privies, and picnic tables, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy asks hikers to postpone their hikes on the Appalachian Trail until further notice.

 

For more information, visit https://wildeast.appalachiantrail.org/official-blog/please-stay-off-the-appalachian-trail/

What should I do if I develop symptoms of COVID-19?

Anyone experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 should stay away from others and be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible. You should not be in close proximity to others until you have been examined and cleared by a medical professional.

 

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 while on the Trail, please submit an incident report at appalachiantrail.org/incidents detailing when you got sick, when and where you got off the Trail and any other helpful information.

Will Appalachian Trail Conservancy visitor centers be closed during the COVID-19 outbreak?

To ensure all visitors, staff members and volunteers are kept as safe and healthy as possible, all ATC Visitor Centers will be closed until further notice.

Where should I send questions I have about COVID-19 and the Appalachian Trail?

We will be updating this page regularly as more information and guidelines become available. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, you can contact us directly by phone at 304.535.6331 or email at [email protected].