The Pacific Crest Trail Association, the organization responsible for preserving, protecting and promoting the PCT, has made the tough decision to ask thru hikers to cancel their plans to hike the world-famous trail in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak.
“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 organization said on its website.
With mounting closures of outdoor areas along the west coast and the growing spread of the Coronavirus in California, the organization made the hard decision to discourage travel during this time. While most of the travel on the PCT is in the vast wilderness, hiking stops in small towns along the way could gravely endanger its residents. So to protect the people who help PCT hikers throughout the year, it’s deemed the best course of action to cancel any PCT trips.
The Pacific Crest Trail is an iconic trail spanning 2,650 miles from the Mexico border to the Canadian border, including trails through some of Northern California’s most popular outdoor destinations.
Here is the entire statement from the PCT Association:
An Important COVID-19 Message to the PCT Community
As reported cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, many people have put their PCT trips on indefinite hold. Many others are currently on the trail, heading north on their thru-hikes.
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.
Under these circumstances, choosing to travel to—and start or continue—a journey on the PCT runs counter to widely-accepted medical, government, and scientific recommendations for not only avoiding exposure to the coronavirus, but also for limiting the spread of COVID-19. For more information please see the CDC’s information on COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
We recognize that many have planned their PCT journeys for years and made major life changes such as quitting jobs or selling homes. We also understand that some have traveled to the PCT and have no clear option aside from starting your trek. But these circumstances should not justify putting other lives at risk. Limiting the spread of the virus—and the associated economic fallout—requires sacrifice from everyone.
Because of the above, and in recognition of the increasing burden that healthcare and other vital services in trail communities will bear in treating their general populations, the PCTA asks all those who are already on the trail—as well as those waiting to start—to cancel or postpone your journeys. The choice is no longer only personal, but one of social responsibility. We all must do everything we can to get beyond this pandemic as quickly as possible.
Primary administrative authority for the PCT lies with the U.S. Forest Service and not with the PCTA, so to be clear, the trail is open and if you have received a long-distance permit it is still valid at this time, but PCTA requests that you postpone or cancel your plans.
Thank you for your support and commitment to avoiding risk to yourselves and others. This is an unprecedented, rapidly evolving, and difficult situation for us all. We will be constantly assessing conditions in the coming weeks and notify you if anything changes.