The Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club (ODATC) is an organization of individuals and trail-related organizations who meet to recreate in the outdoors in various ways as well as act as stewards of a portion of the Appalachian Trail and the public lands it runs through. Our recreational endeavors focus on hiking in Virginia but includes biking, paddling and touring as well. While the majority of our events occur in Virginia our only true limits are what members wish to limit themselves to. Learn more
* Message from ODATC President. See below.
* Directive from the ATC: Please stay off the Appalachian Trail due to Coronovirus Pandemic. See the article from ATC below.
THE ODATC EXPERIENCE - CURRENT ISSUES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
for Sawyer Volunteers
Trail maintenance is a vital component of the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club’s activities. There is an opportunity for volunteers to seek Chainsaw Certification on April 25th-26th at Mount Rogers National Recreational Area. If you are interested in becoming an AT Sawyer now or in the future, please contact Trail Maintenance Supervisor, Amanda Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy Spotlights Mark Heede's Contributions to ODATC
We are pleased and proud to announce that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has highlighted Mark Heede's contributions to ODATC. This is a truly wonderful article about Mark, a dedicated member who has made a major impact on our club's efforts at making the Appalachian Trail accessible to one and all. Please click here to read the full article.
Stay Off the Appalachian Trail
In these unprecedented times, I am making an unprecedented request: please stay away from the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Whether your hike is for a couple of hours or a couple of days, staying away from the Trail minimizes the spread or contraction of COVID-19.
In a time when social distancing is necessary to minimize the spread and contraction of a dangerous virus, many have escaped to nature seeking isolation and unpopulated spaces. On the A.T., however, what they’ve found are trailhead parking lots exceeding their maximum capacities, shelters full of overnight hikers, day hikers using picnic tables and privies, and group trips continuing as planned. Popular spots along the Trail like Blood Mountain in Georgia, the McAfee Knob area in Virginia, and Annapolis Rocks in Maryland have seen day use reach record-breaking levels. Cars line the highways leading to popular day-hiking spots on the Trail. Hiking the A.T. has become, in other words, the opposite of social distancing.
These same crowds accessing the A.T. may not know how a simple half-day hike can spread COVID-19. While hiking, they may have eaten lunch at a picnic table, taken a break in a shelter, used a privy, or shared a map or food with someone unknowingly infected with COVID-19 and carried this highly contagious virus back to their communities at the end of the day. They may not have realized that ATC staff and Trail volunteers have been recalled from the A.T. and cannot maintain the footpath, trailheads, shelters and privies that may be heavily (or permanently) impacted by increased visitor use. And, they may not be aware of the rural communities adjacent to the Trail that may not have the healthcare resources to help a sick hiker or volunteer or manage a COVID-19 outbreak should a hiker transport the virus in from the Trail.
Many day hikers see the outdoors as an escape from the stresses of these difficult times. But with crowding from day hikers reaching unmanageable levels and the lack of any staff or volunteers to manage this traffic, it is necessary that all hikers avoid accessing the Trail. The A.T. is not a separate reality from the communities in which hikers live – so, until the risk of spreading COVID-19 has reduced significantly, hiking on a heavily-trafficked trail like the A.T. potentially increases rather than reduces harm.
The ATC does not want to do too little, too late. We cannot close the Trail. We cannot physically bar access to trailheads or connecting trails. We can and do, however, urge everyone to please stay away from the Appalachian Trail until further notice.
There is an unfortunate truth about this virus: unless everyone is safe, no one is safe. So, take a walk around the block. Spend time with your loved ones. And, please, stay home.
Sandra "Sandi" Marra
President & CEO
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club
A Message from the President
Our hiking club has taken a big hit like everyone has due to the COVID-19 virus. It was tough to cancel all of our hikes and maintenance trips in the popular month of April. As you know our club works closely the Appalachian Trail Conservatory (ATC) and they are officially against any hiking or maintenance trips on the Appalachian Trail (AT) at this time.
Moving forward we will decide about the May hikes around mid April. As for the membership meeting in May it will likely be based on the policy of the Science Museum for groups at that time. We are a tight group and I know we will get through this. If you are doing any hikes please practice social distancing and stay in small groups.
President of the ODATC