National Forest Service closes access points, trailhead facilities to A.T. in Southwest Virginia

Local Coronavirus Coverage

In spots, only the white blazes show where the trail is.(B.Stack/WJHL)

(WJHL) – The National Forest Service and George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are temporarily shutting down trailhead facilities and access points to the Appalachian Trail in Southwest Virginia.

The goal is “to prevent groups from congregating and to protect public health” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a release, recreation opportunities in the National Forests are still available, such as dispersed camping. Officials ask those activities support social distancing and are done in small groups.

“We realize our communities and our visitors value the recreation opportunities the forest has to offer,” said Joby Timm, George Washington and Jefferson 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.”

In addition to A.T. dedicated parking lots, sites shut down include:

  • Whitetop Mountain/Forest Road 89 Trailhead
  • Elk Garden Trailhead, SR600 crossing
  • Scales/Forest Road 613 Trailhead (Pine Mountain Road)
  • Forest Road 603 Trailhead Parking (near Fox Creek Horse Camp)
  • Hurricane Campground/Comers Creek Road Trailhead

Forest Service managers ask everyone not participate in high-risk activities like rock climbing, which can increase the change of injury or distress. They state that law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited because of the coronavirus.

Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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