Appalachian Trail Conservancy warns backpackers off trail, after issuing warning to day hikers

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There is now a call to backpackers to stay off the Appalachian Trail because of the coronavirus and the closing of facilities they use.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which oversees the multi-state trail recently issued a stay-off-the-trail warning to day hikers.

It has now issued similar guidance to backpackers or "through hikers."

"Our strong recommendation is not to travel to the trail for a backpacking trip," said Bob Sickley, a regional manager for the conservancy and responsible for the part of the trail that runs through Pennsylvania from the Susquehanna River to New York.

He says two key support systems for backpackers have been closed.

"At this time there are shelter and privy closures from the Bureau of Forestry and the National Park Service," Sickley said. "So that is basically an order for them not to be used while the current situation is going on."

He said that includes the eight overnight shelters and six privies in PA.

"As you can imagine, as one of the organizations that’s so involved in promoting hiking on the trail, it’s painful for us to make the recommendation," Sickley said. "But, we really see it as a way to protect the trail and protect everybody’s health."

For those itching to go out for a walk, Sickley has a simple suggestion.

"Recreate close to home if you can," he said. "Spend some time planning your backpacking trip for when the current situation is resolved."