Archived Outdoors

Smokies trails closed while black bears eat

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an estimated 2,000 black bears. Donated photo The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an estimated 2,000 black bears. Donated photo

Due to a large concentration of bears eating acorns, two trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are closed until further notice. These include the Gatlinburg Trail between Gatlinburg and Sugarlands Visitor Center and Twin Creeks Trail between Gatlinburg and the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center. 

Bears depend on fall foods like acorns and grapes to store the fat reserves they need to survive the winter. Some will travel more than 30 miles to feed on a particular stand of oak trees, often feeding more than 12 hours per day. 

Though generally solitary, in the fall several bears may be seen feeding close together where food is abundant. Normally wary bears may act aggressively to defend these areas. 

For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, visit nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/black-bears.htm.

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