COVID-19 and the Pacific Crest Trail

May 18, 2020

While California, Oregon and Washington cautiously move into the next phases of living with COVID-19, the Pacific Crest Trail Association has published new Guidance for Visiting the Pacific Crest Trail during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Help continue limiting COVID-19’s spread.

We support single-day hikes or horseback rides on the PCT and longer, self-sufficient trips that don’t require resupply if they are in your local area. If the trail and trailheads are open, your state allows non-essential recreational travel and you observe physical distancing from anyone not in your household, getting exercise outdoors is a good thing.

You can help limit the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding communities other than your own. Being completely self-supported on PCT outings is key: if you bring everything you need, don’t stop anywhere traveling to and from the trail and avoid side trips from the trail to resupply, you limit transmission of the virus between you and others.

Based on the best information we have now regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we all need to keep it local. Long-distance hiking takes you through remote areas, but it’s an inherently social experience—how many times have you heard hikers say “It’s about the people!” And long-distance PCT travel means visiting many other communities across three states.

Currently, it’s just not reliably safe to move freely for long distances across states and through many small trail towns. Some of these towns have vulnerable populations and are still very concerned about their capacity for healthcare. And search and rescue personnel are equally concerned about being put at risk. We’ll continue to evaluate the ongoing situation and provide updates when they happen.

Many experts believe COVID-19 case numbers could rise as states gradually reopen, and local infection hotspots could emerge, requiring a repeat of more restrictive guidelines. It’s possible long-distance travel may not be safe for several months. It’s difficult to predict and depends on the choices we make.

In this challenging and unprecedented time, we hope you can remain flexible and still find time to discover and explore the PCT close to home. There are many spectacular sections of the trail that can be hiked in a day or a weekend, and the PCT will still be there in the future for your long-distance journey. Thank you for being responsible and taking precautions to keep yourself and others safe.

To any of our volunteers (or those interested in volunteering), all in-person PCTA volunteer trail projects, trainings and events remain postponed until further notice. All PCTA Trail Skills Colleges scheduled this summer have been canceled because they are typically gatherings of 50-100 people or more.

For the latest information regarding permits, please check our permits page.

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