Hiking during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s how to stay safe on the trails.

USA Today (March 31, 2020) by Nicquel Terry Ellis and Weldon B. Johnson

As social distancing guidelines continue another month and temperatures warm up in some regions, many Americans will search for safe outdoor activities.

Medical experts say hiking is safe as long as you do it alone or with someone from your household at a trail or park that isn’t crowded.

Some trail organizations urge hikers to cancel or postpone their trips to limit the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement on its website, the Pacific Crest Trail Association says hiking on its trails “runs counter to widely-accepted medical, government, and scientific recommendations.”

“Because no one can travel long distances on the PCT and be certain of avoiding any exposure to the coronavirus, and because anyone at any time can be a carrier of the virus without knowing it, it is clear that anyone traveling the PCT and resupplying in communities along the trail represents a serious risk to others on the trail and people in those communities – particularly high-risk individuals for whom the virus could be deadly,” the statement says.

Sandra Marra, president and CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, issued a similar plea to hikers who might consider tackling that trail, which stretches more than 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine: “Please postpone your section or thru-hike. Instead, consider alternate ways of connecting to the Trail and to the outdoors.”

“We do not make this request lightly. We manage and protect the A.T. because it is meant to be hiked,” Marra explained. “However, the practices necessary to support a section or thru-hike may make A.T. hikers vectors to spread COVID-19 – whether congregating at shelters or around picnic tables, traveling to trailheads in shuttle vans, or lodging at the various hostels up and down the Trail.”

To read the rest of the article, including information from the Arizona Trail Association, click here.