Covid-19 Cases Reported Among Long-Distance Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern Oregon

Sacramento, California and Eugene, Oregon – The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has learned that some long-distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern Oregon tested positive for Covid-19 and have left the trail. More hikers were reported as symptomatic and were seeking to be tested.

Each year thousands of hikers set out to travel the entire 2,650-mile PCT. This year, large stretches of the PCT are closed due to wildfires and smoke in Northern California—including the Dixie and River Complex fires.

Northbound thru-hikers are currently moving through Oregon, and while they normally tend to be spread out along the trail, hikers are gathering in larger numbers after skipping closed sections of the trail in Northern California. This increases the chance for social spread of Covid-19 among hikers, the people who assist them, and people in towns along the trail.

The PCTA is urging hikers to take extra precautions to avoid exposure to the virus. This includes asking hikers to:

  • remain on the PCT as long as possible and limit time in towns
  • avoid large gatherings, especially indoors; and outdoors where people are
    close together
  • wear a mask when close to others
  • wash hands often with soap or use hand sanitizer

Hikers are also reminded that local requirements, such as where masks are required, may change during a long-distance journey. Check with public health agencies for the most up-to-date information.

Hikers who believe they have been exposed to Covid-19 or who are experiencing Covid symptoms should leave the PCT immediately to seek testing and quarantine if necessary. It is important to remember that Covid testing should be done 3-5 days after possible exposure to reduce the chance of false negative test results.

The PCTA further states that vaccination remains the best protection against Covid-19 and recommends all hikers get vaccinated if they haven’t yet.

According to the CDC, “The Delta variant of the virus is highly contagious, nearly twice as contagious as previous variants.” Also from the CDC: “Unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern: Although breakthrough infections happen much less often than infections in unvaccinated people, individuals infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections, can transmit it to others.”

Finally, the PCTA asks the community who helps hikers to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. They can keep hikers—and trail towns—safe by not contributing to situations with an elevated risk of viral transmission, such as packing hikers into vehicles for rides, hosting hikers overnight indoors, and staging social gatherings like hiker feeds.

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Author: Scott Wilkinson

Scott Wilkinson is the PCTA’s Content Development Director. A former professional musician, Scott has 20+ years of experience in almost every marketing role. Before joining the PCTA he was a marketing/creative director at West Virginia University and the University of Oregon. A serious outdoor addict, Scott is an experienced whitewater paddler, hang glider pilot, flyfisher, mountain biker, and (of course) hiker and backpacker.