Responding to COVID-19

The A.T. on Katahdin Reopens

July 1, 2020

This morning, the Baxter State Park Authority announced that most trails leading to the summit of Katahdin have officially reopened, including the Appalachian Trail (which coincides with the Hunt Trail). Most public facilities in the park have also reopened aside from bunkhouses and the Park’s headquarters building in nearby Millinocket, Maine.

Park visitors should follow the below guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Carry a mask or cloth face covering and wear it when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Stay on the Trail, especially when above treeline, to avoid crushing fragile alpine vegetation. Quickly pass others while wearing a mask.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (200 feet from natural water sources) or use alcohol-based sanitizer before and after touching high-touch surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, particularly if they are showing symptoms associated with COVID-19.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home while you’re sick and avoid close contact with others.

Maine and Baxter State Park visitors from other states are also required to provide proof of either a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours prior to arriving or a 14-day quarantine (residents of New Hampshire and Vermont are excluded from this requirement). A certificate of compliance is required at places of lodging and to enter Baxter State Park and other locations. See maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy
and baxterstatepark.org for more info.

Any hikers planning to visit the Park should be aware of all park rules and regulations, including the need for reservations well in advance.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy continues to advise hikers to postpone thru-hikes and long-distance section hikes that require resupplying in vulnerable Trailside communities due to these considerations:

We continue to recommend all hikers follow the guidance issued in May, as the principles of choosing local hikes, being self-sufficient, being prepared, and being respectful of others remain effective ways of minimizing the spread of COVID-19. As a reminder, aspiring thru-hikers who postponed their thru-hikes at the end of March due to COVID-19 will have an additional 12 months after they resume where they left off after we’ve given the okay to return and still be listed as a thru-hiker in our 2,000-miler registry.

Should you still choose to attempt a long-distance hike during this period, consider choosing a flip flop hike rather than a southbound hike starting at Baxter State Park. In addition to limited capacity in the Park itself — and the potential for denied or delayed admission due to daily visitor limits — Maine is considered the A.T.’s most rugged and remote state; conditions in 2020 during the pandemic make it even more challenging than normal.

  • Gaining access to Katahdin may be easier on foot northbound from Monson (115 miles south) or more distant regions for long-distance A.T. hikers than entering the park by vehicle and starting southbound. Advance camping reservations are strongly recommended when entering the park by vehicle, as campsites are almost always full. Hikers walking in on foot northbound via the A.T. from Monson or further have more camping options but need to stay flexible with their camping plan when they reach Baxter State Park. A free A.T. Hiker Permit is required of all A.T. hikers in Baxter State Park; there is a fee for camping within the park’s 15 miles of the A.T. (camping is allowed at designated sites only).
  • Downed trees make hiking more dangerous and difficult. Due to late-season snow and a stop-work order for volunteers this spring, many downed trees remain across the trail. Climbing over and around downed trees may slow your pace and increase your chance of injury. It will be easier to get lost and harder for rescuers to reach you. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them; a two-way satellite messenger and A.T. app that provides your location can also be useful. Be aware that cell service is usually non-existent except on summits.
  • Do not plan on using lean-tos and privies. Lean-tos and privies are not being sanitized. The virus may survive on shared surfaces, physical distancing may be difficult at lean-tos, and COVID-19 may be spread through fecal matter. Bring your own tent or other portable shelter and trowel for digging catholes (200 feet from water and campsites).

We will communicate any updates as soon as decisions are made. In the meantime, we invite you to monitor our A.T. Closures page and Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus New Case Trends By State.

We thank everyone for their patience and encourage you to review our Plan and PrepareLeave No Trace, and COVID-19 guidance before any trips on the A.T., no matter the distance.

Stay safe,

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Team