Section of Appalachian Trail Closed to Camping Due to Aggressive Bears
The Appalachian Trail has faced another closure due to reports of aggressive bears approaching hikers, continuing a trend of similar closures in recent years. On Wednesday, The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) announced that the Forest Service has closed a ~7-mile section of trail to camping along the North Carolina/Tennessee border, from Tanyard Gap to the junction of Little Paint Creek Trail (NOBO miles 280.8 to 287.7). This closure was prompted by multiple hikers reporting bear encounters in the area. The closure includes the Rich Mountain campsite and the Spring Mountain Shelter.
The ATC urged all visitors to exercise caution while in the area, advising them to properly dispose of trash and food scraps and never leave food unattended. They also recommended that overnight hikers plan their itineraries accordingly to avoid camping in the affected section or consider alternative routes. No timetable has been provided as to when they expect this section to re-open for camping.
The ATC highlighted that the Forest Service had issued a food storage order last month for hikers along the trail in the USFS’s Southern Region (south of Shenandoah). The order requires hikers to store their food in bear canisters, vehicles, land manager-provided vessels like bear lockers, or properly hang them to prevent bear encounters. The ATC emphasized the importance of adhering to these guidelines.
Hikers and visitors are urged to stay informed about bear safety measures and respect the closures for their own safety. The ATC and the Forest Service will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary steps to ensure the well-being of hikers on the Appalachian Trail.
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