Stay Safe and Healthy
Responding to COVID-19
The latest updates and guidance for hiking on the Appalachian Trail safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The availability of effective COVID-19 vaccines and a lower risk for COVID-19 transmission in outdoor spaces make hiking a lower-risk activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are still risks associated with hiking on popular and often-crowded trails like the A.T. Information provided by the National Park Service Public Health Officers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remind us that precautions are still needed, especially due to COVID-19 variants. We currently recommend the following safety precautions:
- Receiving one of the available COVID-19 vaccines will significantly reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Find a location to receive the vaccine by visiting vaccines.gov.
- Continue to carry and wear a mask whenever social distancing cannot be achieved. This applies to any enclosed spaces, such as A.T. shelters, in shuttles/vehicles, and when indoors in towns/hostels for resupply. This also applies to crowded outdoor spaces when six feet of distance cannot be maintained with people who are not in your group. Earlier this year, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or physically distance in most cases, whether indoors or outdoors. However, as more information becomes available about COVID-19 variants, particularly the “Delta” variant, these recommendations might change — it is recommended to regularly monitor CDC recommendations. Those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks and physically distance as recommended by the CDC. Some regions and businesses might also continue to require masks and physical distancing. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html
- While most A.T. shelters are open, we recommend overnight campers use a personal shelter whenever possible to maintain physical distancing. Prolonged exposure in semi-enclosed settings like A.T. shelters, where crowding can occur and unvaccinated individuals may be present, could increase your chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
- Wash your hands frequently with biodegradable soap at least 200 feet from water sources. When soap is not available, use hand sanitizer that contains 60- 95% alcohol.
- Avoid sharing food. Do not eat out of the same food bag, share utensils, or drink from other hikers’ water bottles.
- Avoid large groups when possible, even outdoors, particularly when physical distancing cannot be maintained. This is especially important for those who have not been fully vaccinated.