Wildfires Close Sections of the Appalachian Trail

Last week, wildfires closed sections of the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, and containment is still in progress.

The Black Bear Fire began November 16 due to a car accident on I-40, and dry conditions combined with high winds contributed to its spread over 2,000 acres. Prior to that, the Matt’s Creek Fire was reported in Virginia on November 12 and spread across 10,000 acres, resulting in a 20-mile closure of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a full closure of the James River Face Wilderness, which contains a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Thanks to the efforts of approximately 640 responders and the help of Tuesday’s much-needed rain, the Matt’s Creek Fire was mostly contained by Wednesday morning. As of today, the Fire Information for Resource Management System reports the Matt’s Creek Fire as 91% contained and the Black Bear Fire as 80% contained.

Appalachian Trail closures remain in effect at this time:

  • In North Carolina/Tennessee, the trail is closed from I-40 to Brown Gap, including Groundhog Creek Shelter, due to the Black Bear Fire. Max Patch is now open.
  • In Virginia, the Piney Ridge Trail, Gunter Ridge Trail, and Belfast Trail are also closed due to the wildfire. The Appalachian Trail from Petites Gap Road/Forest Service Road 35 to the James River Foot Bridge remains closed (NOBO miles 777.2 to 787.1).

READ NEXT — How to Stay Safe While Hiking During Wildfire Season

Featured image courtesy of U.S. Forest Service – George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

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