New guidance for visiting the PCT during the summer of 2020: Stay safe, stay local

An empty PCT below Mount Adams, Washington. Photo by Vincent Li.

As states modify their COVID-19 orders and move cautiously to reopen, the PCTA has published guidelines for staying safe on the PCT. Where local guidelines and stay-at-home orders permit—and where the trail and trailheads in your area are open—we support single-day hikes and horseback rides in your local area, and longer self-sustained trips that don’t require resupply—as long as you live near the trail, follow physical distancing and other guidance, and avoid potential transmission of the virus between communities along the trail.

We recognize that getting outdoor exercise and sunshine is beneficial to our physical and mental health, and there are many spectacular sections of the PCT that you can enjoy for a day or a weekend.

While COVID-19 case numbers are flat or decreasing in some areas, they are still increasing in others. And as states reopen and more people get outside, experts say there is still the potential for spikes and regional COVID-19 hotspots to appear. Long-distance trips on the PCT have the potential to spread the coronavirus, especially in small towns with vulnerable populations that may not have been exposed.

For these reasons we urge you to avoid long-distance travel on the trail. We’ll continue to evaluate the situation and will provide updates when they happen.

The U.S. Forest Service has directed the PCTA to cease issuing the Pacific Crest Trail Long-Distance Permits for the rest of the year. In order to comply with changing local public health concerns, national parks and national forests will issue local permits instead. The agency stressed that while areas are opening, only recreating locally and taking proper precautions is an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In an abundance of caution for our volunteers, all in-person PCTA volunteer trail projects, trainings and events remain postponed until further notice. We are evaluating future events and projects and will provide updates when anything changes. All PCTA Trail Skills Colleges scheduled this summer have been canceled. These are typically events involving 50-100 people so will not be safe for the foreseeable future.

It’s much too early to tell how the virus might affect the 2021 season on the PCT. We’ll continue to work with our agency partners on this issue to evaluate the public health considerations and state and federal guidelines. We’ll provide updates as we know more.

Meanwhile, we’d like to thank everyone in the PCT community for being flexible, making responsible decisions, and considering your own safety and well-being as well as the same for others.

Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.