Virginia – Camping Closure – Petites Gap to James River




Due to reports of aggressive bear activity, officials with the U.S. Forest Service have closed the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) to camping between Petites Gap Road and the James River Footbridge (NOBO miles 777.2 to 787.1). This includes Matts Creek Shelter and camping on the Matts Creek Trail (NOBO miles 785.1 and 785.2). See our previous update about Matts Creek Shelter for more details.

All area visitors should use caution, pack out all trash and food scraps, and never leave food unattended. Overnight hikers should plan their itineraries accordingly to avoid camping in this section or find an alternative route. 

All overnight hikers should properly store food, trash, and scented items in a bear canister for the duration of their time on the A.T. Bear canisters are the most reliable and flexible means of food storage for camping along the A.T. to ensure that bears do not access human food. 

The Forest Service recently released a new food storage order that requires hikers to properly store food, refuse, and scented items (animal attractants) when camping on national forest land along the A.T. south of Shenandoah National Park.  

We will update this post with more information as it becomes available.  

For more information about bear safety and proper food storage on the A.T., visit