Coronavirus and Summer 2020 on The Colorado Trail

CT Segment CW01 south of Twin Lakes in August 2019, thanks to Brian Pierce.

CT Segment CW01 south of Twin Lakes in August 2019, thanks to Brian Pierce.

Now in mid-March with such broad impacts of the Coronavirus, what should 2020 Colorado Trail planners be thinking about? Here at the CT Foundation, we are mindful of many virus-related considerations but we are having a hard time forecasting into July, August and September, the heart of the Trail season. Still, here are some thoughts that we hope might help those of you who are planning.

We think quarantine and social distance will likely still be important come July and beyond. If you’re possibly contagious or if you’re sick, stay home. Or if already on the Trail, keep your distance from others.

The part of your trip that is specifically the hiking or bicycling in the great outdoors, to us, seems to fit pretty well with social distancing. Keep to yourself and ‘up’ your attention to clean hands and cleanliness in general.

But, of course, the hiking or biking is not even close to the only aspect of your long trip. There’s the transportation and town aspects. Virus-related changes to transportation and towns will likely require significant changes to your trip plan. For a CT traveler to adjust his plan is absolutely normal, it has happened on every lengthy excursion. But we think 2020 is likely to require more numerous and trip changing adjustments than usual.

Many of those coming from out of Colorado (or out of the country) will face weighty transportation decisions, especially with airline travel. Given those close quarters, maybe consider traveling by car instead.

Social distancing might mean continued closures and restrictions in town. An example is that, today, all Colorado restaurants are closed for dine-in service. At most, restaurants are offering take-out. Though this governor-mandated closure is for one month, no one knows yet whether it will get extended. The fact that you can’t “dine in” (today) might also mean that you can’t charge your devices as you had planned. Even seating inside grocery stores has been prohibited.

Hostels and other lodging might also be closed and present another need to make significant trip adjustments. As part of your trip planning now, consider trip contingencies that have you in your shelter every night.

Grocery stores will probably still be open. But given some of the empty shelves we’ve seen, it might require that you’re even more flexible about what you buy for resupply.

Shuttling and hitchhiking may also be limited. Envision walking or riding to and from town as might be needed.

All is not lost. Many CT trip planners will adopt a flexible approach and make adjustments. We think it is likely that many of you will travel The Colorado Trail this summer and gain great joy from the experience.

One Thru-Hiker’s View on Social Responsibility