Monday, March 30, 2020

All Overnight Shelters and Privies on Lands Administered by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office Closed Until Further Notice

Effective immediately, the National Park Service is closing all overnight shelters (56 total) and privies (75 total) on land administered by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office in the states of VA (10 shelters, 12 privies), MD (1 shelter, 2 privies), PA (8 shelters, 6 privies), NJ (1 shelter, 1 privy), NY (5 shelters, 5 privies), CT (7 shelters, 16 privies), MA (1 shelter, 4 privies), and ME (22 shelters, 29 privies). These closures are consistent with and in concurrence of our state and non-profit partners. These modifications to operations are in support of federal, state, and local efforts to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local communities. These closures will be in effect until further notice.

All shelters and privies will be closed to all use on Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office lands to implement the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing and sanitation standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Closing shelters will prevent trail users from congregating in close proximity to one another and encourage proper social distancing recommendations. Overnight trail users are encouraged to use a tent, and tent usage is authorized in the area surrounding the shelters. Closing of privies will prevent trail users from entering confined spaces where disease spreads without proper sanitation, and will discourage visitors from using facilities that do not meet cleanliness standards. With privies closed, hikers should dig a cat hole more than 200 feet from water sources and camping areas. The use of tents instead of shelters, and cat-holes for human waste disposal, is a reasonable mitigation to help protect our visitors.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local communities is our number one priority. The CDC guidance for this pandemic includes social distancing. We are concerned that recent visitation patterns are in violation of CDC recommendations. While outdoor spaces remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest health guidance, we urge visitors to practice social (physical) distancing and to avoid impacts on park resources.

* Stay at least six feet away from people outside your immediate household.

* When encountering another party on the Trail, step aside and give a six-foot right-of-way.

* Seek out areas that are not crowded to allow for adequate social distancing.

* If you encounter a crowded trailhead, go elsewhere.

* We urge visitors to continue to practice "Leave No Trace" principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.

* Consider staying closer to home to enjoy fresh air and outdoor activity. Many local neighborhoods are walkable or have trails nearby accessed by foot or bicycle.

We are closely monitoring COVID-19 with the federal, state, and local authorities. For updates, visit


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