Appalachian Trail (A.T.) volunteers have been given the green light to resume Trail maintenance following guidelines offered by the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Maintenance work was put on pause in late March this year as safety guidelines and procedures were developed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers, hikers, and Trailside communities. The guidelines are intended to keep everyone safe. While much of the Trail is open for hiking and volunteer work, COVID-19 spread is dynamic. Some states and public lands could shut down if there are spikes in new cases, and volunteers will abide by all closure orders should they occur.
As volunteers begin assessing and repairing any damage to the Trail, all visitors should be aware that many sections of the footpath have not been monitored or maintained for several weeks. This means you might encounter obstacles such as bushy/overgrown areas, downed trees across the footpath, or erosion damage from rainstorms. Overgrown sections are also high-risk areas for ticks, so be sure to follow tick bite prevention techniques and perform tick checks frequently. Overnight campers and visitors in parking areas should pay careful attention to potential hazard trees and dead branches overhead.
We also still advise all campers to avoid using shelters and privies along the Trail. Over 200 shelters and privies are still closed by their respective land management agencies, and maintainers have been asked to postpone cleaning these structures until further notice to help keep them safe from potential COVID-19 infection.
Should you encounter a downed tree or any other significant maintenance needs on the Trail, please send an email to [email protected] describing the exact location and the type of maintenance needed.
Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park The Smoky Mountain Hiker is the author of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog and the online trail guide, HikingintheSmokys.com
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