After a weekend of aggressive bear activities including a black bear breaking into a vehicle, the Appalachian Trail has been closed in the Humpback Rock picnic area (MP 5-ish). This comes on the heels of Thursday’s bear encounter at MP 5 of the Skyline Drive just south of Front Royal when a hiker’s dog was chased and killed by a bear.
A notice went out Sunday afternoon about the bear encounters and trail closures. By way of Appalachian Trail friend Rockfish to Reeds:
Received via email (AT TRAIL & CAMPING CLOSURES – between Paul Wolfe Shelter and Dripping Rock – 9.5 miles):
Good afternoon everyone,
We wanted to advise you that the Blue Ridge Parkway has experienced a number of bear incidents this weekend in the Humpback Rocks Picnic Area on the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The picnic area itself has been closed for the past week due to bears approaching visitors looking for food.
This afternoon a bear broke into a car at the Dripping Rock Parking area north of Humpback Rocks. In addition, two hikers along the Appalachian Trail near Humpback Rocks saw two bears which refused to leave the trail.
Out of an abundance of caution we would like to implement a trail closure and closure to all camping along the Appalachian Trail between the Paul Wolfe Shelter and Dripping Rock (approximately 9.5 miles). We realize this will be an inconvenience for many hikers using the Appalachian Trail through this area, however, based upon the current bear activity we feel we must err on the side of safety.
The National Park Service is in the process of reviewing the alternatives for managing the 2-3 bears we believe responsible for most of the on-going activity.
Any thing you can do to help get the word out about the above closures would be greatly appreciated. We will be posting signs at the effected trail-heads along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Natural Resource Specialist
National Park Service
Blue Ridge Parkway
1670 Blue Ridge Parkway
Floyd, VA 24091
Black bear activity has caused trail closures the past several years in Shenandoah National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is not to alarm but a heads-up to be safe and alert.