Hiking in Bear Country

A black bear feeds on hawthorne berries.
A black bear feeds on hawthorne berries after climbing up into the tree.

Dan Ng

Grizzly and black bears live throughout the park and parkway. Some of the most popular trails are in excellent bear habitat. Bears will usually move out of the way if they hear people approaching, so make noise. Don't surprise bears! Bear bells are often not sufficient. Calling out (try saying "Hey Bear") and clapping your hands at regular intervals are better ways to make your presence known.

Some trail conditions make it hard for bears to hear, see, or smell approaching hikers. Be particularly careful near streams, when it's windy, in dense vegetation, or in any circumstance that limits line of sight (e.g. a blind corner or rise in the trail).

Never intentionally get close to a bear. Individual bears have their own personal space requirements that vary depending on their mood. Each bear will react differently and a bear's behavior cannot be predicted. All bears are wild and dangerous and should be respected equally.

Keep children close by. Hike in groups and avoid hiking early in the morning, late in the day, or after dark. The use of personal audio devices is strongly discouraged.

  • Never leave your backpack unattended!
  • Never allow a bear to get human food. If approached by a bear while eating, put food away and retreat to a safe distance.
  • Never abandon food because of an approaching bear. Always take the food with you.
  • Never throw your pack or food at a bear in an attempt to distract it.
  • Bears that receive human foods often become aggressive and must be killed.

Return to Bear Safety Home>>

Never approach a bear.
Never feed a bear.
Stay 100 yards (1 football field) from bears at all times.

Last updated: December 8, 2016

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