17 Miles of the AT Temporarily Closed to Overnight Camping in Virginia Due to Bear Activity
Due to increased bear activity, 17 miles of the AT are closed to overnight camping in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands State Park in Southern Virginia. The actual closure runs from Elk Garden/VA-600 to Fox Creek/VA-603. The stretch includes three shelters: Thomas Knob Shelter, Wise Shelter, and Old Orchard Shelter.
The area and shelters inside it have had bear activity warnings since early this season, but the situation has only recently escalated to require this step. The ATC and Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club have several alternatives for hikers who don’t want to hike the entire stretch in one day. You can read those in their entirety on the ATC’s trail updates page, as well as find more information about the closure.
The area has no current timetable for its return to normal use. In the meantime, the ATC asks that hikers not leave packs unattended and keep all dogs on leash. Hikers are also asked to report all bear incidents to the ATC.
Hikers not following proper LNT food-storage principles can lead bears to develop a taste for human food and be attracted to gatherings of hikers. While it is commonly believed that hanging food is a measure to protect hikers from bears, bear hangs also help protect bears from people. Eventually a fed bear can become so persistent and aggressive that drastic measures must be taken, such as relocation or euthanasia.
Featured image courtesy Jim Rahtz
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