Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have closed Twin Creeks Trail, Noah Bud Ogle Cabin, and the Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail due to bear activity until further notice. Cherokee Orchard Road was closed earlier today, but is expected to open tomorrow morning.
"This is a very significant bear incident and we are closing the trail areas to ensure that we can assess trail safety before reopening the area," said Acting Superintendent Cindy MacLeod. "We advise all hikers in the park to be extremely cautious of bears, especially during this time of year when natural foods are scarce."
According to Park Wildlife Biologist, Bill Stiver, bears throughout the park are underweight and stressed this year following a very harsh winter and a low acorn supply last autumn. Park officials urge everyone to exercise caution while hiking, camping, and picnicking to ensure their personal safety and protect bears. Black bears in the park are wild and unpredictable. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, causing injuries or death. Hikers are encouraged to hike in groups of three or more, closely control children, and keep their hiking groups together.
Bears should never be fed and all food waste should be properly disposed to discourage bears from approaching people. Feeding, touching, disturbing, and willfully approaching wildlife within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces wildlife, are illegal in the park. If approached by a bear, visitors should slowly back away to put distance between the animal and themselves creating space for the animal to pass. If followed by a bear, rangers recommend that you stand your ground and not run. Hikers should make themselves look large and throw rocks or sticks at the bear.If attacked by a black bear, rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available and remember that the bear may view you as prey.
These closures follow yesterday's closing of Gregory Bald due to bear activity.
For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, please visit the park website. To report a bear incident, please call 865-436-1230.