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Contact: Dana Soehn, 865-436-1207
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials temporarily closed the Gatlinburg Trail between Gatlinburg and Sugarlands Visitor Center, and also the Twin Creeks Trail between Gatlinburg and the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center. Both trails are closed due to a large concentration of black bears feeding on acorns. The trails will remain closed until further notice for the safety of visitors and to allow bears to feed undisturbed on natural foods.
Bears depend on fall foods such as acorns and grapes to store fat reserves that enable them to survive winter. Bears move around a lot during the fall looking for acorns, with some traveling more than 30 miles to feed in a particular stand of oak trees. Generally bears are solitary, however, during the fall, several bears may be seen feeding in close proximity. They will often feed for more than 12 hours a day and can be concentrated in areas where abundant food sources are found. During this time period, normally wary bears may act aggressively to defend these areas.
For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, please visit the park's Black Bears webpage.
Last updated: December 9, 2022