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 each update below for more information.
Bear Encounters Reported in Nantahala Ranger District
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
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
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
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
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
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.