US 321 to Wilbur Dam Rd. (approx. 4 miles) – All activities except hiking along the Appalachian Trail are prohibited due to recent bear activity.
Hikers are asked to walk through the area without stopping. Preparation or consumption of food, lingering, and camping are prohibited in the area known locally as “Oliver Hollow” by a U.S. Forest Service closure order.
The Watauga Lake Shelter in this stretch is also closed. Even though a “closure order” has been issued to restrict usage of the area, the A.T. is not closed to hiking. These orders are in effect for an 18-month period from June 3, 2014 until December 1, 2015. The official U.S. Forest Service poster can be found here. (June 17, 2014)
On some signs the Forest Service is now using definition of closure area as “Shook Branch Rec area/Oliver Hollow Rd. to Wilbur Dam including Watauga Lake Shelter- Closed”
The National Forest Service lands are closed to most recreation from north of Shook Branch to a half mile north of Wilbur Dam Rd. Bears are active in this area. Individuals are only permitted to hike through this area. Please continue hiking through this area without stopping. Watauga Lake Shelter is closed. No preparation or consumption of food or overnight stays allowed. This closure is effective until December 1, 2015.
Oliver Hollow bear closure map
The ATC has partnered with the state and local authorities to help provide a more educated plan to help mitigate the spread of Noro Virus on the AT. Please read their recommendations on how it’s spread and how you can minimize your risk of infection.
Prevent Norovirus Infection
A report has come in from Cross Mountain that there has been vandalism of both the trail info board and a few vehicle break-ins. Local authorities have been notified and asked to scope the area at regular intervals. If hiking in this area, or anywhere for that matter, please take a moment to hide away any valuables in your vehicles or take them with you. While this is not a complete solution, as least there would be nothing around to entice someone. The trail info board will be repaired soon. Also, don’t forget to report any damage or vandalism you see while enjoying your hike. Happy hiking!
“Appalachian Impressions” is an epic story about hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. The movie takes you on a six-month, 2,180-mile journey along the most famous long-distance hiking trail in the world. Along the way, you’ll meet hikers who have embarked on this trek, carrying everything they need on their backs. You’ll hear their stories, experiences, and challenges of daily life traveling the Trail across fourteen states. Locally, the film is being shown at the Capitol Cinema in Erwin, TN on October 20, 2013 from 6-8:30PM. The opportunity is the 2013 membership drive, which for $30 or more donation gains a year’s subscription to the colorful AT Journeys magazine among several benefits. Youth under 13 can see the movie free. Tickets can be purchased here.
Carl Fritz reporting
This 13th annual Damascus Hard Core event was Sunday, May 19th and Monday, May 20st. It was preceded by the tragic event at Damascus Trail Days during the parade on Saturday when 50 people were injured by a car. Everyone experienced more obstacles including rainy weather during the Hard Core event. But Monday ended spectacularly with everyone happy. Continue reading