If you’ve purchased yourself a hiking cart to help you carry your equipment when you’re out hiking then you might be surprised to know that not everywhere allows you to use your hiking cart.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits people from using motorized equipment and “other forms of mechanical transport” in areas designated as “wilderness”, which is interpreted as any wheeled item. However, County, State, and National Forest Lands may have other rules.
The Wilderness Act which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 established the Wilderness Preservation System. The intention of this was to ensure that future generations were able to enjoy the natural beauty in the US as the current generation had.
As part of the Wilderness Act over 800 areas were designated as ‘Wilderness Areas’, which are managed by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service.
However, what we are truly interested in is whether or not hiking carts are allowed in these designated wilderness areas. The answer to this comes down to a specific sentence within the Wilderness Act.
no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.Section 4c of the Wilderness Act (https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1981/upload/W-Act_508.pdf)
The problem we face comes in the interpretation of that quote. While the sentence appears to be focused on forms of personnel transport, some have taken the view that this refers to anything with wheels.
If you’re in any doubt about whether you’re allowed to use a hiking cart then it is best to speak to the authorities that manage the area you want to go hiking to get confirmation. We would also suggest that if they are happy for you to use a hiking cart that you get that in writing. Then should there be any confusion you can show that you have sought confirmation first.