News Release

Park Closes Hazel Creek Trail and Backcountry Campsite 82 Due to Fatality

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Date: September 12, 2020
Contact: Dana Soehn, 865-436-1207

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have closed campsite 82 and a section of Hazel Creek Trail after rangers have discovered the remains of an out-of-state adult male at the campsite.  On the afternoon of September 11, backpackers found an unoccupied tent at campsite 82.  Shortly thereafter, the hikers discovered what appeared to be human remains across the creek with a bear scavenging in the area.   The hikers quickly left to obtain cell coverage and report the incident to the authorities.   

Emergency Communication staff received the initial report shortly after 7:00 p.m. Law enforcement rangers and wildlife officers were immediately dispatched to the scene.  Staff arrived at campsite 82 shortly after midnight and confirmed the report of a deceased adult human male.  After observing a bear actively scavenging on the remains, the rangers euthanized the bear.   Rangers are currently working to notify the next of kin.  The cause of death is unknown, and the case remains under active investigation. 

The Hazel Creek Trail will remain closed until further notice between the juncture with Cold Springs Gap Trail and Welch Ridge Trail.  

For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, please visit the park website at To report a bear incident, please call 865-436-1230. 

Last updated: July 28, 2021

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