Backcountry conditions change constantly. It is your responsibility to be prepared for the unexpected.

Report any adverse or dangerous Trail conditions you encounter by sending a detailed email to [email protected].

Click Here for A.T. Closures Due to COVID-19

Click each update below for more information.

BEAR WARNINGS

A.T. Trailwide Updates
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Improper food storage can lead to human/bear conflicts on the A.T.  Carry a bear-resistant personal food storage container to reduce negative human/bear interactions and keep you, your food, and bears safe when camping on the A.T. For more information, visit our black bear page. Please use the Bear Incident Report Form form to report any bear incidents. Your report will help reduce human/bear conflicts on the A.T.

Current overnight site closures, warnings and cautions (See state-by-state sections below for more detail):

Bear Activity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Bear Activity

Every year problematic bear activity has been reported at some overnight sites, trail sections, and trailheads in the park. Hikers must use the food storage cables provided at all backcountry campsites in the park. Plan ahead to avoid closed campsites or shelter sites and always store food and smellables properly.

As of 10/1/2020, closures and cautions due to recent bear activity currently exist at the following sites:

  • Cosby Knob Shelter (mile 231.1) – Caution

Keep in mind the situation can change at any time, and almost all shelters within the park have had cautions or closures at one time or another due to bear activity.

Click here for more information about bears in the backcountry.

New Food Storage Requirement

Vermont
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Hiking Safety

(7/28/2019) The Green Mountain National Forest has implemented a forest order that affects the entire A.T. in Vermont. Except while being consumed, all food, food containers and refuse shall be stored suspended at least twelve (12) feet above the ground and not less than six (6) feet horizontally from any object. Bear boxes and bear canisters designed specifically for food and/or refuse storage are acceptable. More information can be found here.

Hunting Season Awareness

A.T. Trailwide Updates
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Hiking Safety

In many areas of the A.T., hunting is taking place along or very near the A.T.; deer firearm season  begins in most states in October or November and lasts through December or into January (through March in Loudoun County, Virginia). To maximize your safety, research where and when hunting is allowed, wear fluorescent or “blaze” orange visible from 360 degrees, avoid hiking at dawn and dusk, and take other precautions. For more information and safety tips during hunting season, visit appalachiantrail.org/hunting. Know before you go!

Bear Encounters Reported in Nantahala Ranger District

North Carolina
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Bear Activity

Bear canisters are strongly recommended for all overnight campers.

Due to a number of close and serious bear encounters in Panthertown and along the Appalachian Trail, the Nantahala Ranger District is strongly recommending that backcountry campers use bear-proof containers for all food and scented items.

Overmountain Shelter Closed Until Further Notice

nc
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tn
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Shelter Closure

In order to protect public safety, the Appalachian Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest has closed the Overmountain Shelter (mile 386.0). Forest Service engineers have determined that the building has become structurally unsound and cannot safely accommodate people. Further evaluations will occur to identify viable management options for the site. The fields around the shelter remain open for tent camping; hikers are asked not to pitch their tent within 40 feet of the shelter in the event there is a structural failure. For more information, view our press release here.

Watauga Lake Shelter Dismantled Due to Increased Bear Activity

Tennessee
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Bear Activity

Watauga Lake Shelter has been dismantled per a U.S. Forest Service Camping Closure Order due to ongoing bear activity in the area. No picnicking, lingering or overnight camping is allowed, and hikers are advised to continue through the area without stopping.

Vehicle Break-Ins at Davenport Gap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Parking

Multiple vehicle break-ins and car thefts have been reported at this location (Tenn. 32/N.C. 284, the eastern boundary of GSMNP).

Do not park overnight: this location has a history of vandalism and car thefts. The ATC recommends parking at Big Creek Ranger Station in seasons when rangers are present.

Backcountry Permit Fees

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Permits

A backcountry permit must be obtained for overnight stays before entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and a $4 per person fee will be required for each night in the backcountry. Backcountry permits can be obtained up to 30 days in advance. Hikers who meet the definition of an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker (those who begin and end their hike at least 50 miles outside the park and only travel on the A.T. in the park) are eligible for a thru-hiker permit of $20 (valid for 38 days from the date issued for an up to 8-day hike through the Park). Permits are available at www.smokiespermits.nps.gov. You may also obtain a permit in person at the park’s Backcountry Office (at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN) or over the phone; with permits issued by fax, mail or email. Hikers staying overnight in the backcountry are required to have a printed copy of the permit.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/backcountry-camping.htm or call 865.436.1297.

Bear Canister Requirements

Georgia
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Food Storage

Bear canisters seasonally required for camping between Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap

A U.S. Forest Service rule requires an approved bear-resistant canister for overnight camping on a 5-mile stretch of the A.T. in the Chattahoochee National Forest between Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap, between March 1 and June 1 each year. This stretch is located between points 26.7 and 31.7 miles north of the southern terminus of the A.T. at Springer Mountain, Georgia, and includes Woods Hole Shelter, Slaughter Creek Campsite, and Blood Mountain Shelter. Bear canisters should be used to store food, food containers, garbage and toiletries. Canisters must be commercially made and constructed of solid, non-pliable material manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting entry by bears. For more information, see the Supervisor’s Order here or call the Chattahoochee – Oconee National Forest at (770) 297-3000.

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