The Pacific Crest Trail Association on Friday asked thru-hikers to postpone or cancel plans to hike the PCT due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is the second long trail organization to do so this week, following similar action from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
In a statement, the PCTA said the risk of hikers becoming vectors for the disease was unacceptably high, and that thru-hikers' choice to cancel was "no longer only personal, but one of social responsibility."
"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.
The PCTA does not have the legal authority to close the trail, and it noted that permits are technically still valid. However while the organization acknowledged that some hikers may have traveled long distances to the trail, and others had made major life changes like quitting jobs to prepare for the journey, it said that those circumstances "should not justify putting other lives at risk."
On Tuesday, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy asked all thru-hikers preparing to hike or currently on the Appalachian Trail to cancel or postpone their plans and return home.