by Ron Tipton, ATC Executive Director/CEO

December 2 Update on the A.T. and the Southern Fires

December 2, 2016

Header image courtesy of Chris Higgins,, Instagram @chrishigginsphoto.

Dec. 2, 2016 – Over the last few weeks, fires have raged across the southern Appalachian Mountains and the Appalachian Trail from Georgia up to central Virginia, and many major fires are still burning. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the many people dealing with the loss of life, homes, businesses and other property. We also want to thank the brave firefighters from all over the country who have joined the fight to protect the region and the Trail from further damage.

Many of you have inquired about the status of the A.T. in those areas where fires came close to or even crossed the Trail.

What we know:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have closed the 71.2 miles of the A.T. within the Park.
  • Fires crossed 31 miles of the A.T. in a stretch from the northern edge of GA into southern NC.
  • The A.T. is closed from Dicks Creek Gap/U.S. 76 in GA (mile 69.9) to the Nantahala River/U.S. 19/U.S. 74 in NC (mile 137.1).
  • The A.T. is closed from U.S. 60 (mile 806.1) to Saltlog Gap, VA (mile 814.6).

Currently, due to safety concerns, authorities have not cleared those sections for ATC Staff and Trail Clubs to assess the damage. We hope to be able to perform this assessment as soon as possible.

We do know this: there will be numerous hazard trees to cut down; shelters will need to be repaired or rebuilt entirely; water bars and cribbing will need to be installed; and, with the loss of a great deal of underbrush, the possibility of significant erosion and even mudslides will exist.

In short, we have a great deal of work ahead of us.

What can you do to help? The best thing to do now is to make a donation to the ATC — click here to visit our donation page. We will use your contribution to assess the damage and ​​implement repairs to the Trail in the affected areas. Your generous donation will also fund our ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the Appalachian Trail hiking experience from Georgia to Maine.

We will continue to update you as new information develops.

Thank you,

Ron Tipton
Executive Director/CEO

For updates on Appalachian Trail conditions, visit