Thru-Hiking and Covid-19: Continental Divide Trail

by Francesca Governali  Community Engagement Coordinator, Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Covid-19 had a significant impact on much of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in 2020 and we continue to adapt as vaccines are rolled out and guidance in our trail States changes. We saw a significant drop in long-distance hikers last season thanks to the many who made the responsible decision to postpone their thru-hikes last year. While our Gateway Communities felt the impacts of limited hikers, they also experienced upsurges in local outdoor recreation. 

As this season begins, we continue to urge long distance users on the trail to consider the risks of starting a trip during the pandemic. We are currently not running our Southern Terminus Shuttle and are not maintaining water caches in the bootheel of New Mexico—two services that usually provide support for individuals beginning their thru-hikes. While we regret that we can’t safely assist hikers to their preferred terminus at this time, the spirit of the CDT has always included room for adaptation, alternative routes, and exploration. Travelers who had intended to start a trip at Crazy Cook might consider starting at other locations or holding off on starting their trip.

With the start of the next hiking season, CDTC continues to follow all local, State, and national health experts on what activities are permitted during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the State-level guidance we share on our website. Whether trail visitors are planning an afternoon trail ride or a multi-day backpacking trip, we ask them to make sure they’re up to date on these requirements and recommendations, which may vary day to day, county to county, or State to State. 

We are still running adjusted forms of our volunteer programs, and have implemented new guidelines for those helping on our trail work projects, including smaller group sizes and no longer permitting volunteers to share food or tools.

While we look forward to an eventual return to normal, we want to send a warm reminder that the trail isn’t going anywhere. No vacation is worth compromising your health or the health of others.

2024 National Trails Workshop Call for Proposals Open