Appalachian Trail thru-hikers again won’t be recognized this year over coronavirus concerns

  If you’re thinking about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail this year, you might want to think again.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is discouraging people from attempting to hike the entire 2,190-mile trail — called thru-hiking — and has said it will not recognize attempted thru-hikes until the coronavirus pandemic is “under control.”

The group — which manages the multi-state trail — also said it will not distribute hangtags, the plastic tags given to aspiring thru-hikers to promote sustainable hiking practices and celebrate their attempt.

“Due to the pandemic and the risk that interstate travel could spread COVID-19 (including the emerging variants that could be even more contagious), the ATC has been advising hikers to postpone their hikes until the CDC has deemed the pandemic ‘under control’ or a COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatment is widely available and distributed,” the ATC said on its website.

“We do not feel it is appropriate to provide what could be perceived as a reward for long-distance hiking, which we are actively discouraging until one of the above conditions is met,” the group added.

The group said it hasn’t distributed hangtags since March 2020 because of the pandemic.

Those who want to be considered thru-hikers have to complete the entire 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail in one trip within 12 months — though it typically takes between five and seven months.

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