North Carolina – Bear Activity



The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has historically received reports of bear activity along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in North Carolina, particularly in the southern Nantahala Wilderness near the Georgia border and in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, bears live along the entire Trail through North Carolina.

All visitors to the A.T. in North Carolina should educate themselves on bear safety and proper food storage before leaving for the Trail. Hikers should keep a clean camp, store all food and “smellables” properly (scented items like cookware, bug spray, chapstick, trash, lotion, sunscreen, some medications, etc.), pack out all trash and food waste, and never leave food unattended (even for a short trip to the privy or to look at a view).

Hikers in North Carolina outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are required to properly store all food and smellables according to the U.S. Forest Service Region 8 Food Storage Order. Within the park, hikers are required to hang all food and smellabes from the provided bear cables.

The ATC recommends all overnight hikers use a bear canister as the most reliable and effective method for preventing bears from accessing human food.