Plan and Prepare

Prepping for 2021

November 30, 2020

UPDATE: May 11, 2021

With a widely available and distributed COVID-19 vaccine in the United States and the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ATC has updated its guidance for long-distance hiking and visitor centers. Long-distance hiking on the A.T. is now considered to be a safer activity, especially for those who have received one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. The ATC 2,000-Miler Recognition Program has resumed, and A.T. 2021 hangtags will be distributed when designated A.T. visitor centers reopen. Some COVID-19 safety recommendations are still in place. For more information, visit


We at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) are hopeful that, after a year of uncertainty, frustration, and sacrifice, we are nearing a time when the pandemic will no longer be a concern.

Unfortunately, that time has not yet arrived. The rising number of COVID-19 infections underscores the need to be cautious, prepared, and adaptable, even on the A.T.

The ATC will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with our partners at local, state, and federal levels so we can provide accurate, up-to-date information on how this virus is affecting the A.T., its Trailside communities, and the Trail’s dedicated volunteers and hikers.

The rising number of COVID-19 cases continues to make long-distance hiking a potential contributor to the spread of coronavirus along the Trail and in Trailside communities. The best way to ensure you and others remain safe is to postpone your hikes. However, if you are planning a hike of any length in 2021, please reduce the spread of COVID-19 by preparing appropriately for your hikes. We encourage you to visit our Hiker Resource Library. This page provides information on everything from gear suggestions to COVID-19 specific precautions for hikes of any length.

View Hiker Resources

On December 1, our ATCamp registration system will open for new registrations. ATCamp shows you how many other people are planning to start their hikes at a certain location, and how many campers have signed up to stay at a certain campsite or shelter. You will be able to select dates and locations/campsites that will have a smaller chance of crowds, making it more possible for everyone to maintain social distance and minimize impacts to the Trail and its surrounding environments. If you choose to opt into messages from the ATC, we will also email or text important updates on Trail conditions, closures, and safety information.

We encourage anyone who is planning a multi-day hike on the A.T., from a single night to a full thru-hike, to register their hike so that you — and others — can effectively spread out along the Trail.

Register Your Hike

Beginning December 3, the ATC will also offer live online courses for 2021 hikers to help you plan and prepare for upcoming journeys. These courses will be hosted by ATC staff and former A.T. thru-hikers, covering a range of topics and discussions designed for all hiking experience levels. While space will be limited for the live sessions, all courses will be recorded and shared for later viewing.

Visit for more information and to register today.

We have also received many questions regarding the status of our 2,000-miler recognition program. The ATC plans to reinstate our 2,000-miler recognition program when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deemed the pandemic “under control,” and/or a COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatment is widely available and distributed.

In a year that has been marked by uncertainty, we are grateful to everyone who has taken extra steps to help ensure they are keeping themselves and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you hike on the A.T. in 2021, your decision to plan and prepare appropriately will help ensure everyone’s A.T. experiences are safe, healthy, responsible, and successful.

Stay Safe,

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Team

Lead image courtesy of Horizonline Pictures