The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina, and the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee are temporarily shutting down trailhead facilities and other access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to prevent groups from congregating and to protect public health and safety.
The decision aligns with state and local measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"We realize our communities and our visitors value the recreation opportunities the forest has to offer," said JaSal Morris, Cherokee National Forest Supervisor. "A lot of consideration went into this decision. The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority."
The following popular access sites are affected by these changes:
Wayah Bald - Nantahala National Forest
Cheoah Bald - Nantahala National Forest
Hampton and Dennis Cove Trailheads (Laurel Falls) - Cherokee National Forest
Osborne Farm - Cherokee National Forest
Max Patch - Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests
Roan Mountain/Carvers Gap - Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests
Lovers Leap - Pisgah National Forest
Here is a complete list of access sites affected by these changes.
USDA Forest Service managers remind national forest visitors to recreate responsibly by avoiding gathering in groups of more than ten people and not engaging in high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Also note that law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19.
Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park