Roger Hoden made the 2,200-mile trek from Maine to Georgia over five months. Asbury Park Press
Stay off of the Appalachian Trail.
That’s the request coming from the leadership of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, as the trail that meanders through 14 states from Maine to Georgia is attracting a large number of hikers. In fact, some of the most popular spots along the trail have reached record-breaking levels in the wake of the coronavirus.
“In these unprecedented times, I am making an unprecedented request: Please stay away from the Appalachian Trail,” said Sandra Marra, president and CEO of the conservancy in a news release.
This is another twist in the coronavirus story: While Americans are being asked to stay close to home but get outside, visitors are flocking to the trail, which offers 2,200 miles of outdoor glory. In turn, spaces on the trail are crowding, running counter to the idea of social distancing.
“Whether your hike is for a couple of hours or a couple of days, staying away from the trail minimizes the spread or contraction of COVID-19,” Marra said.
Popular spots along the trail have reached record-breaking levels, specifically Blood Mountain in Georgia, the McAfee Knob area in Virginia, and Annapolis Rocks in Maryland.
Trailhead parking lots are actually exceeding their capacities, and hikers are filling up the trail’s overnight shelters, sharing picnic tables and rotating through outhouses.
ATC staff and trail volunteers have been called off of the path. They aren’t able to maintain footpath, trailheads, shelters and outhouses.
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In a news release, the conservancy said: “We cannot close the trail. We cannot physically bar access to trailheads or connecting trails. We can and do, however, urge everyone to please stay away from the Appalachian Trail until further notice.”
In Pennsylvania, the trail wanders over 230 miles and cuts through these counties: Franklin, Cumberland, Perry, Dauphin, Lebanon, Schuylkill, Berks, Lehigh, Carbon, Northampton and Monroe.
Kim Strong can be reached at email@example.com.
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