Megafires and Their Effect on Thru-Hiking

"As the fires worsen, we have to wonder the unthinkable: Thru-hiking in the western US might not be viable in the long term. " -Maggie Slepian (Backpacker Magazine)

Slepian, M. (2021, July 14). Can Thru-Hiking Survive in the Age of Megafires?. Backpacker Magazine. Retrieved From,BackpackerMag-facebook,twitter&fbclid=IwAR3y7azxpc3Z3NEIsKv0xt_SNm2ZKA5ralSMq5kt-aYZmpJkX8ZnhDUfL9Y

Thru-hiking has become increasingly popular in the United States and across the world in recent years. These long-distance treks typically take months to complete and the weather and conditions window has always been fairly restricted by snow and shortened summer seasons in the high country. Another factor has been making that window even smaller: Wildfires. As climate change continues to rear its ugly head, wildfires have become significantly larger, more destructive, and more frequent. Megafires as they have come to be known, are creating yet another massive challenge to folks looking to complete large thru-hikes in the American West. In today's age, it almost seems like fire season begins as soon as the snow melts. Oftentimes, these fires affect trail systems, cause public land closures, and are major hurdles for thru-hikers. Fires can cause lengthy detours and it is not uncommon for thru-hikers to have to skip entire sections of their trek. All these factors considered, the question has to be asked: Can thru-hiking survive the age of Megafires in the American West?