Day Hikes in Great Smokey Mtn. Nat'l Park


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Tortuga12
September 7, 2013, 12:00 AM
Wife and I are going up to Gatlinburg next month, plan on doing some good day hikes while there (I miss real trees!). Getting our emergency "just in case" stuff together now, and I figure the little Kimber Pepper Blaster II will be part of the kit.

Should a pistol also be included? I've heard of occasional issues on the AT, and problems with...amateur pharmacists...in the parks out west, but is there any need to bring something more substantial along with us? I'm guessing two-legged problems would be more of an issue than 4-legged, given the traffic in the park.

Thanks in advance!

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hso
September 7, 2013, 12:05 AM
Dunno where you get the info that the GSMNP has those problems.

When will you be going to GSNMP? If late enough the bears will be in for the winter. If before their interest will depend upon the mast and how much they can find on their own.

Carry a bear spray and don't worry about it in the park and your favorite CCW outside.

twofifty
September 7, 2013, 12:31 AM
The park straddles the Eastern Continental Divide, Carolina to the East, Tennessee to the W, and the Appalachian Trail follows the divide.

There are lots of opportunities to park somewhere at low elevations and do long committing dayhikes up to the divide. Most of these trails will take you through lush forests and alongside clean streams. If you have time to do an overnight, easy two-day loops are possible.

For less strenuous activity, check out the Cades Cove historic area - stunning in the Fall.

The park has black bears and feral hogs. Saw both and all was well.

P.S. in October, you'll have the backcountry pretty well to yourself. Be prepared for a possible freak snow or icestorm at elevation.

NavyLCDR
September 7, 2013, 03:16 AM
Dunno where you get the info that the GSMNP has those problems.

When will you be going to GSNMP? If late enough the bears will be in for the winter. If before their interest will depend upon the mast and how much they can find on their own.

Carry a bear spray and don't worry about it in the park and your favorite CCW outside.

I've got to ask... why would his need for self defense decrease because he passes through the gates of a national park? Is there a magical force field that keeps the criminals and crazies out?

ColtPythonElite
September 7, 2013, 03:24 AM
Been going there for decades. I so no reason to upsize guns. Just carry whatever you normally do. Crazies? Never saw any more there than anywhere else. Bears? Seen 'em. Most of the time running away.

NavyLCDR
September 7, 2013, 04:05 AM
I so no reason to upsize guns. Just carry whatever you normally do.

As you say, "just carry whatever you normally do"... I see no reason to downsize guns either, just because the person is in a National Park.

jmr40
September 7, 2013, 07:19 AM
My wife and I hike there often. Since becoming legal, I carry a G-20 when hiking. As long as you are on the trails you are legal if you have a permit recognized in TN, or NC if you are on the NC side of the park. You cannot carry it into any of the park owned buildings however.

Most of the park trails are well traveled, you'll see lots of people and the odd's of encountering people with bad intentions is rare. There is the real possibility of bear encounters. I've been quite close to bear there and in N. Georgia on multiple occasions and never felt the least bit threatened. I've always enjoyed the show, used common sense and never had a problem.

But incients do happen. A woman was killed in the park about 10 years ago. A hiker was bitten on the foot 2-3 years ago. An 8 year old boy was injured in 2008, and there have been multiple incidents just outside the park boundries within the last few years including a small child killed by a bear in 2006.

I don't obsess over bear attacks. It is way down on my list of things to worry about, but it is now legal to carry there, so why not. I certainly wouldn't carry a huge magnum revolver. The added weight is just not justified by the threat level. The Glock is light enough, and with hot loads I feel powerful enough for black bear at SD ranges.

If you are up to a bit more challenging hike start at the Alum Cave Bluff trail and hike up to the Mount LEconte Lodge. It is 5 miles to the lodge, another 1/2 mile to the summit which is worth the trip. We have never stayed at the lodge, but have day hiked there often. You can buy a sack lunch and T-shirt at the lodge before hiking back down. You gain about 3000' going up so it is a bit strenuous. http://www.lecontelodge.com/

Some photos of our hike in June

http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m513/jmr40/021_zpse3349e00.jpg (http://s1129.photobucket.com/user/jmr40/media/021_zpse3349e00.jpg.html)
http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m513/jmr40/030_zpsb81afb6b.jpg (http://s1129.photobucket.com/user/jmr40/media/030_zpsb81afb6b.jpg.html)
http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m513/jmr40/059_zps896ce95b.jpg (http://s1129.photobucket.com/user/jmr40/media/059_zps896ce95b.jpg.html)
http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m513/jmr40/049_zps72e336c4.jpg (http://s1129.photobucket.com/user/jmr40/media/049_zps72e336c4.jpg.html)
http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m513/jmr40/039_zps889a55c9.jpg (http://s1129.photobucket.com/user/jmr40/media/039_zps889a55c9.jpg.html)

hso
September 7, 2013, 07:49 AM
I suppose you could think of terrain and exertion as magical barriers to violent criminals, but only in the respect that 2 legged predators don't drive the winding roads of the park and hike the trails. Violent crime rate is vanishingly low probably for those and that there are no eateries/bars in GSMNP for food or beer/booze unlike some national parks. In the decades I hiked GSMNP the instances of serious crime are about as common as mythical Mayberry's.

I would be aware of risks outside the park in Pigeon Forge where there have been problems with increasing crime rates.

Bullz
September 7, 2013, 08:24 AM
The risk in the wildlife areas is the inability to call any authority to action should you need the assistance. It's just you out there. You will also have little ability to retreat should a situation require it. So it would be prudent to prepare for the worst case scenario that you feel is reasonably predictable. And what that is will depend on where you are planning to be. Higher traffic trails are lower risk, in my mind, than wandering through no mans land.

Personally, whenever I go out into the wild, I carry a standard capacity pistol with FMJ rounds with a few extra mags in the pack.

Curator
September 7, 2013, 09:13 AM
Tortuga,

The GSM Nat. Park is a LOT safer since they allowed concealed carry in National Parks. Many of the horror-stories from there date from the earlier Clinton Administration's efforts to deal with gun crime in the Park by harassing campers instead of bad guys. Most of the two-legged predators are now wary of potentially armed campers. The "Brownie Bears" might get a bit huffy and want to see your "papers." if they discover you are armed. You need to have a carry permit valid in the State's jurisdiction you are in. Having a "Back Country Permit" if camping outside of designated areas is required, and not a bad idea even on a day hike.

460Kodiak
September 7, 2013, 09:34 AM
I was there last year in May and it was an ant farm for people. Beautiful place, but I doubt I'll ever go back.

I did see a few black bears. Whether a black bear or a crazy person, a good .357 or a .45 would do you just fine there.

NavyLCDR
September 7, 2013, 11:11 AM
I suppose you could think of terrain and exertion as magical barriers to violent criminals, but only in the respect that 2 legged predators don't drive the winding roads of the park and hike the trails. Violent crime rate is vanishingly low probably for those and that there are no eateries/bars in GSMNP for food or beer/booze unlike some national parks. In the decades I hiked GSMNP the instances of serious crime are about as common as mythical Mayberry's.

I'm sorry...it just too easy for me to carry my gun everyday, everywhere it is legal. No reason not to. Especially the reason of "You'll be safe there! Nothing ever happens there!" I'm sure there are plenty victims of violent crimes that probably felt the same way - before they became a victim.

Magoo
September 7, 2013, 11:32 AM
The "amateur pharmacists" around here are more like "semi-pro farmers", and they don't place their crops anywhere near well traveled trails like those in the park. Most of that activity is in the surrounding national forest land. That said, it is big business and you will be here near harvest time so if you're going to be going off trail (way off trail) outside of the park keep your eyes and ears open.

Bear activity seems pretty high this year. I'm reading about a lot of sightings on the fishing forums I follow. One guide has seen 30 in the last two weeks. I chased one off of the neighbor's porch a couple of weeks ago. If you're concerned about bears I'd recommend a true bear spray and not something designed for use on people.

That said, the wife and I are heading into the park not too far from Gatlinburg in a couple of hours. We'll be armed with fly rods.

carbine85
September 7, 2013, 11:32 AM
My wife and I go there about every 2 years and mostly stay outside of Gatlinburg. I use to hike the area and the trails years ago. I only had to close calls and both with black bears. Once I had to take shelter in the trail camp shelter and the other I simply blew a whistle before it came in too close. As far as protection against people goes I would recommend carrying something. No telling who you might meet up with.
If I'm not mistaken the park rules are that you have to stay on the marked trails and some of them you have to register for so that they know who's out there in case of emergency.

22-rimfire
September 7, 2013, 11:34 AM
I would carry what you normally carry inside the park assuming your state permit is valid in either/both TN and NC. If I am out taking pictures and carrying a lot of stuff, the gun usually gets left in the car. I do carry a few knives however. I am not in the least concerned about black bears in GSMNP, but you do need to give them some room. The rangers have been doing their best in Cades Cove to keep people back a bit when possible. Bear jams are common there... sometimes a mile of traffic for one bear during weekends like just past (Labor Day). My sister saw 10 bears during her 3-day park visit last weekend.

But to answer your question, I wouldn't be too worried about it and carry concealed if you want to. Be aware you are not allowed to shoot the firearm. You will hear no gunshots inside the park. In Sequoia NP, you can't even discharge a firearm for self defensive purposes. Crime is not an issue for the most part. But it always pays to pay attention.

Magoo
September 7, 2013, 11:37 AM
^^^ Sorry, I'm always "armed" with a whistle when fishing. It's hard to yell over the sound of a river.

You certainly don't have to stay on designated trails. It'd be awfully tough to fish the park if that were the case. Most of my day today will be spent well off trail.

22-rimfire
September 7, 2013, 11:40 AM
Magoo where are you headed? Bear activity is high. Last winter was warmish and they had a good mast crop. Lots of bears wandering around.

Magoo
September 7, 2013, 11:41 AM
I live in (on ;)) Cosby, about 8 miles from the park.

22-rimfire
September 7, 2013, 11:48 AM
There are few places that I am aware of that are more appealing to me than GSMNP. Love that park. Cosby.... yeah, the regular tourists don't usually hit there unless they are camping. Good luck to ya.

NavyLCDR
September 7, 2013, 11:52 AM
In Sequoia NP, you can't even discharge a firearm for self defensive purposes. I would like to see the reference for that, since it is incorrect.

The M
September 7, 2013, 12:27 PM
I live in (on ;)) Cosby, about 8 miles from the park.

So jealous! I've camped there before and just love it. Amazing hiking there.

Went to Cade's Cove last year and saw 11 black bears in one day if you include the ones I saw on the back roads in northwest NC earlier that day. I love the Smokies! Bug spray plus my 1911 and camera and I'm all set.

Balrog
September 7, 2013, 12:35 PM
The risk of violent crime in the park is low. But it does happen. If you get into an emergency, 911 is either not going to work or be painfully slow. Only a fool would go out with some means of self defense.

If your reason for not carrying is because the crime rate is low, then there is no reason to carry in most places you go. Few of us live in a war zone.

NavyLCDR
September 7, 2013, 12:41 PM
If your reason for not carrying is because the crime rate is low, then there is no reason to carry in most places you go. Few of us live in a war zone.

Amen!

Fiv3r
September 7, 2013, 12:51 PM
When I travel that part of the country, I just pack light or thin. A walk in the woods? Whatever you're comfortable with. A multi-mile hike? I'm taking something that isn't going to weigh me down. Generally a small Glock, my LCR .38 with a couple of reloads, or even the old Norinco 9mm TOK clone loaded up with hardball.

I've never needed anything, but a light revolver or slim/light 9mm never felt like overkill. I'm always way more concerned with crazies than critters.

mr.trooper
September 7, 2013, 01:03 PM
There are over 11,000 threads on this forum alone that deal with "protection" from bears.

That alone should be enough to convince you that you are dead meat unless you pack some serious "bear medicine" - a Ruger Alaskan, snub nosed 480 is considered the minimum, but serious hikers know the 3" 500 magnum is the way to go.

With so many "experienced" internet know-it-alls worried about bears, you just KNOW that it HAS to be a real problem - an average of 2 & 8/10 people are killed each year by black and brown bears combined. The fact that most of those are elderly individuals is immaterial. After all, do YOU want to be that 8/10'ths of a person they find?

Bears are the scourge of the woods - like JAWS, but on land... And we all know how dangerous sharks are. How much is YOUR LIFE worth?

(This post is in jest. Just carry your normal gun for people protection / signaling device)

22-rimfire
September 7, 2013, 01:07 PM
I would like to see the reference for that, since it is incorrect.
Not incorrect. Look it up in the park rules. There was a thread a while back and I coulldn't believe it either. It's simple, they don't want anyone shooting a gun for any reason inside the park which renders them useless.

http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/yoursafety.htm

Weapons and Firearms in the Parks

Firearms are allowed in many national parks. People who can legally possess firearms under federal and state law may be able to possess them in a national park depending upon state laws. State and local firearms laws vary. Visitors who would like to bring a firearm with them to a national park need to understand and comply with the applicable laws. (Note: More than 30 national parks are located in more than one state, so visitors need to know where they are in those parks and which state's law applies.)

Federal law continues to prohibit the possession of firearms in designated "federal facilities" in national parks, for example, visitor centers, offices, or maintenance buildings. These places are posted with "firearms prohibited" signs at public entrances.

While the law allows visitors to possess firearms, it does not allow for the use of firearms in national parks and does not change existing hunting regulations. Hunting is not allowed in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Prior to February 22, 2010, firearms were generally prohibited in national parks - except in some Alaska parks and parks that allowed hunting. Laws & Policies

NavyLCDR
September 7, 2013, 01:16 PM
Not incorrect. Look it up in the park rules. There was a thread a while back and I coulldn't believe it either. It's simple, they don't want anyone shooting a gun for any reason inside the park which renders them useless.
Federal law prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from making rules/regulations pertaining to the possession of firearms in National Parks. Therefore, the rules/regulations inside the National Park cannot legally be more restrictive than state law. Since California State Law allows for the discharge of a firearm in self defense, discharge of a firearm for self defense is also perfectly legal in Sequoia National Park.

Yes, the website for both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks states:
"Discharge of a firearm or weapon is prohibited within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks."

http://www.nps.gov/seki/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm

HOWEVER, what is missing from the website are the exceptions to the prohibition. If you are going to attempt to claim that the above statement applies with no exceptions then park rangers and law enforcement officers are also prohibited from discharging their weapons for any reason.

In addition, even if California law did not permit the discharge of a firearm to prevent grave bodily injury or death, the common law of necessity would justify the action.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Necessity+defense

36 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 2.4 also contains this prohibition in ALL National Parks:
http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=231b06282a6c23df20d810036eb4dd74&rgn=div8&view=text&node=36:1.0.1.1.2.0.1.4&idno=36

(c) The use of a weapon, trap or net in a manner that endangers persons or property is prohibited.

Again, though, if the government decided to prosecute the discharge of a weapon made in self defense, the common law of necessity would apply. If my life or the life of another were threatened to the extent that I had to use my lawfully possessed and carried gun to defend it, I would have ZERO hesitation to do so because an unenforceable regulation prohibited the saving of a life.

22-rimfire
September 7, 2013, 01:31 PM
NavyLCDR, I know you keep up with all the carry laws. It's one of your interests and you usually post when this topic comes up. For my part, I often carry a gun concealed when I am hiking trails inside GSMNP. The actual use of firearms is somewhat of a grey area inside national parks and in particular Sequoia NP (in CA). I have read tales of people being prosecuted for defending themselves against a bear inside Glacier NP. I am no expert on this, but I suspect many park people would like to render firearms useless inside park boundries, but there is little they can do.

Self defense against people?
Self defense against bears, mountain lions, wolves? How about a buffalo or elk?

I would like to read the exceptions to the stated policy also by the way. As in most law enforcement situations, law enforcement are pretty much excluded from the laws, regulations and so forth for the sheeple.

Addded: Kind of reminds me of traffic accidents.... I was in the right. But I'm the one in the hospital or dead. So, I personally subscribe to the common law you mentioned. But in the event something happened when a firearm had to be used, I suspect I would be prosecuted if I was inside a national park.

This is a diversion from the thread topic. I already answered the question in terms of GSMNP.

leadcounsel
September 7, 2013, 01:38 PM
The Smoky Mts are a beautiful area. Great hikes.

Only place I've ever seen wild bears.

I've lived in or visited and hiked and even camped in some areas in Colorado, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia... only place I've ever seen wild bears is in the Smoky's of Tennessee.

I'd carry bear spray for the bears, and a pistol for the two legged predators.

Carrying a 'bear bell' also helps keep these critters at bay...

leadcounsel
September 7, 2013, 01:41 PM
If you like Zip lining, there's a fun zip lining course right there too. Just google it.

22-rimfire
September 7, 2013, 01:42 PM
The Smokey Mt National Park is a real treasure. The easily accessed streams are way over fished for trout. You often just have to find a place where somebody else isn't already and sort of define your territory. Works for fly fisherman on larger water.

I have seen more black bears there than anywhere else I have traveled. You need to pay attention to bears. Even Fox News a while back mentioned that bear attacks have been increasing.... not necessarily in the Smokey's, but in general.

nathan
September 7, 2013, 03:25 PM
Pack a gun for good measure. Again, carry the biggest caliber you can bring . Do not underestimate the dangers (even if nil) that can happen in remote places. And of course the camera, food and water. Have a great time !!

460Kodiak
September 7, 2013, 05:09 PM
If an animal or dope grower is attacking me, I don't give a darn what is legal and what isn't. I'm gonna shoot if I'm legally allowed to carry.

I'll deal with the legal ramifications if I survive.

22-rimfire
September 7, 2013, 05:44 PM
I doubt you'd run into a pot grower inside the park. Like was said earlier, that happens in the less traveled areas of the Cherokee National Forest from the NE edge of TN all the way down to GA. Names change.

hso
September 7, 2013, 05:49 PM
Yep, GSMNP is far too busy and gets far too much attention for drug operations. Cherokee and other national forests (and big pieces of private property abbuting them) do have problems, but they get far less traffic and far less oversight.

oneounceload
September 7, 2013, 05:56 PM
I've got to ask... why would his need for self defense decrease because he passes through the gates of a national park? Is there a magical force field that keeps the criminals and crazies out?

Yep - called the price if admission and the work necessary to be there

Maybe where YOU live, you have such issues, but Southern folks tend to be a tad nicer than most........;)

hso
September 7, 2013, 06:23 PM
Well, we got some pretty rough old boys around and them "durn furiners".;)

The real reason boils down to risk assessment. The risk is low for a number of reasons already discussed so the response to the risk can be proportional. OTOH, if the consequences of being involved in even a rare violent encounter are high, that counterbalances the low probability. About 9 million people visit the park every year and most years there are no violent crimes committed of any type (although there was a sexual assault this year on the trail that goes from Gatlinburg to the Sugarlands Visitor Center) so the rate of violent crime is very very low making for a low threat of violent crime. The threat of a bear attack is even lower in the park. There has only been one death associated with a black bear in the park in many many years. So, low threat of an attack from people or bears would reduce a need for a firearm in the park, but the potential catastrophic result of such a rare event would balance against that in some people's minds. Ergo, don't think of the risk in the park as if it were Chicago or Detroit (or Memphis), but do realize there is a remote possibility that you could be the one in 10 or 20 or 30 million that might make up that rare violence statistic. I carry because I don't want to leave my EDC locked up in the vehicle for someone to steal and because I don't want to have to mess with taking a concealed handgun off and putting it back on for the drive to/from home (and I'm grateful that my carry permit and the law allows me to carry and avoid leaving it in the car).

rhinoh
September 7, 2013, 08:25 PM
One thing I haven't seen mentioned is cellular communications is not available in much of the park.
That alone would encourage me to more likely carry. Help might not be a phone call away.

I too am a big Smokies fan- will be there camping a few nights at Cataloochee this fall. Had a spring camping trip planned there earlier this year but the road washed out and reservations were cancelled. Just spectacular watching the Elk come down in the evenings.

Be wary if around Gatlinburg- the Russian mob is making inroads there. I've noticed at some restaurants all the female wait staff is Russian. Supposedly some of them make quite good extra money at the many hotels "servicing" tourists.
There was also a recent murder conviction of a Russian who buried two bodies in the GSMNP.
Just be careful.

Tortuga12
September 8, 2013, 10:50 AM
Wow, this one went far longer than expected, thanks everybody! I'm definitely in the same camp of "better safe than sorry", in fact, most of what's going in the packs would probably fit that category. JMR, those pics make me wish October would hurry up and get here!!!

Cee Zee
September 8, 2013, 11:08 AM
There was a bear attack in GSMNP back in 2000 that resulted in the death of a 50 year old woman. She was partially consumed by that bear also. Never say never.

Bears are increasing in population tremendously all over the eastern US. A state park a mile away from my farm released 500 black bears one summer. Since that time I've seen a lot of bears in my area including in my yard eating my dog's food. I've also been stalked by a black bear in Virginia which was no doubt brought on by tourists feeding the bears. They start to see people as a source of easy food and they expect it whether you have any or not. I didn't have my gun with me that day because I wasn't aware things had changed in that park so much. I will never go back without a gun. I actually had one that day but it was in the truck instead of with me because I didn't want to be hassled by rangers. I'd rather have that than being hassled by bears though.

I don't know the situation in a place with so many hikers and tourists like GSMNP. I much prefer a lot more remote areas when I go to the mountains. Yes I know the area is very rugged and a long way from civilization but IMO civilization moves out there with those hikers and tourists. There certainly is not one thing wrong with going there. I've been there many times. I just prefer more secluded areas. Some of those areas are on national land and others are on state land. It's good to know all the laws and rules of the place you'll be going. I always check before I leave home.

The last trip I took I hiked a long way to get to an area that still has virgin timber. I didn't see another person on that trail all day. That is the kind of place where a person needs protection. The bad guys and aggressive animals know where the popular trails are and they generally avoid those areas. But being way out in the middle of nowhere with no one there but my wife or being totally alone - that's where you might seriously need to protect yourself. Between those areas and the places where people are dumb enough to feed bears you have the the main spots you need to be concerned.

Wild hogs certainly shouldn't be ignored in many places. The wonderful thing about hogs is they run in packs. And they do sometimes attack people. I don't know how often that happens but I do know that the people I know who went to Georgia to hunt hogs years ago wouldn't take anything except a magnum revolver or above.

Bear attacks are very much increasing in this country and I think it's also true that most bear attacks don't get reported unless someone dies. I haven't been attacked but I've been threatened by bears on at least 3 occasions. Obviously bears don't attack every time they threaten but it sure is good to know you have some way to fight back when they are clacking their teeth at you or staring at you and growling or shadowing your every move on the side of a mountain with only a fairly narrow ledge to walk on with cliffs on both sides (one going up and one going down).

I guess I've spent my share of time in remote areas and I've decided it isn't worth taking the risk of not being armed. I don't think a person absolutely must have a magnum for black bears. A .45 should be good and on long hikes that's what I will have. But in areas with high concentrations of bears and / or two legged skunks (and I've been to both) I often take a .44 magnum especially if I'm on an ATV instead of walking.

BTW I've been attacked by feral dogs too. That's worse than hogs or bears IMO. A lot more people are killed by feral dogs than by bears. Dogs generally need to be dealt with using a high capacity semi-auto because there are usually several together or they wouldn't have the nerve to attack. I was on an ATV when I was attacked so I was able to just ride away but if I had been walking that trail I would have been in serious trouble with a half starved mother doberman and her 5 equally starved pups all coming after me. I think those dogs were put there to keep people away from a cash crop just to be honest. Dogs on their own generally don't make it. Someone was giving them just enough food to keep them alive and hungry. I rode right through the middle of a giant pot patch once too. They were so big I didn't even recognize them as being pot plants. I'm talking 15 feet tall or more. I was lucky not to get shot that day.

22-rimfire
September 8, 2013, 04:03 PM
Wow, this one went far longer than expected, thanks everybody! I'm definitely in the same camp of "better safe than sorry", in fact, most of what's going in the packs would probably fit that category. JMR, those pics make me wish October would hurry up and get here!!!

The Great Smokey Mountain NP becomes very popular again once the leaves begin to change. There are a couple weeks in September where it will be "normal" until the leaves begin to change. Much of what I carry with me would fit in the same "better safe than sorry" catagory unless I am out specifically taking pictures and lugging more equipment than usual along with me. I can't say that I always carry a handgun hiking there however.

I like the park in the winter also. There is a sense of peace that is not present during the summer.

oneounceload
September 8, 2013, 04:46 PM
There was a bear attack in GSMNP back in 2000 that resulted in the death of a 50 year old woman. She was partially consumed by that bear also. Never say never.

WOW, thirteen years ago and how many MILLIONS of visitors since? REALLY?

You have better odds of being hit by a meteor as you cash your winning Powerball ticket.....If you think you can plan for every possible contingency - you can't unless you go to Kansas and buy a decommissioned nuke silo and hole up inside.....really, loosen the tinfoil just a little and enjoy life

22-rimfire
September 8, 2013, 05:11 PM
I actually consider carrying some water and a knife a higher priority than a firearm inside the park.

WOW, thirteen years ago and how many MILLIONS of visitors since? REALLY?


Pretty much it..... the most visited National Park in the country and we had one death in 2000 (12-13 years ago). Better pack that 500 S&W Mag. :)

As I recall it was not determined if the bear killed the woman or the woman died and the bear had a meal from the carrion.

Jeff H
September 8, 2013, 08:26 PM
I actually consider carrying some water and a knife a higher priority than a firearm inside the park.

After having been to Gatlinburg and the surrounding parts of the park this spring, I agree with this comment as it relates to wildlife. There is so many damn people that you would never see a bear or any other wild animal. And for the most part, the trails around Gatlinburg have so many damn people that you aren't likely to meet up with some characters without a bunch of people around.

The park is huge though and I only visited a small part of it with my young kids. For the most part, I either carried a 380 or left it in the truck. there was just so many damn people. It was like walking through a mall, not a national forest.

As a side note, I won't ever go back to Gatlinburg. It was not what I remembered as a kid from 25 years ago. I'll gladly visit the park again but not from there.

hso
September 8, 2013, 08:57 PM
I live "down hill" from Gatlinburg and avoid it. Hikers generally avoid anything near the place, but the tourist can get to those few easily and if you're trying to access those near it you'll be tripping over families. Safe, but not what a trip to the park is about.

rhinoh
September 8, 2013, 09:08 PM
After having been to Gatlinburg and the surrounding parts of the park this spring, I agree with this comment as it relates to wildlife. There is so many damn people that you would never see a bear or any other wild animal.

Really? I've stayed there twice recently, the latest this past January and have seen bears wandering around the Park Vista hotel where I stayed. I was there on business trips each time otherwise I'd have been camping somewhere;)

You know what they say about "never".

Giterboosted
September 8, 2013, 10:34 PM
From experience as I live somewhat nearby, I tell you the same as everyone, just carry your norm, most animals don't care, and you rarely see other people except at the trailhead

Magoo
September 8, 2013, 11:47 PM
Originally Posted by Jeff H View Post
After having been to Gatlinburg and the surrounding parts of the park this spring, I agree with this comment as it relates to wildlife. There is so many damn people that you would never see a bear or any other wild animal.

Last fall I the wife and I saw a bear in the Roaring Fork area. That bear was no more than a mile from the taffy and t-shirt shops. I'll agree that Gatlinburg is a place best avoided or at least driven through as quickly as possible, but it is the backyard of many wild animals.

I can happily report that my hike this weekend resulted in no deaths-though there were potentially mortal battles. The only wildlife I saw was one squirrel and about 15 native brook trout that were released. The old growth grove through which we hiked will hopefully outlive us all.

22-rimfire
September 8, 2013, 11:55 PM
Roaring Fork can be a tough fishing experience. You need to be part mountain goat. But, oh is it pretty!!

If have not seen any wildlife, I would suggest you hit Cades Cove in early January and you will observe the rut. Bucks everywhere. This past Janauary, I even got to see a couple big bucks sparring. The good part is that you can move around pretty quickly as there aren't many visitors that time of the year.

Guns... well, do what is comfortable and makes you feel good.

Cee Zee
September 9, 2013, 04:01 AM
You have better odds of being hit by a meteor as you cash your winning Powerball ticket

Is that so? You do realize what I mentioned was a bear that killed a person, right? That doesn't mean it was the only attack since then. Far from it. BTW I've seen bears in the GSMNP area so those that think they aren't on those trails ever are in for a surprise at some point. People were feeding the bears where I saw them too. Bad idea.

You do realize that most bear attacks don't show up in stats right? You have the tree huggers in the federal departments (especially the DNR) that keep track of attacks and they try to cover up the number of attacks in their reports because they want people to accept bears in their area without complaining. Then there's the people who live in rural areas that know what a hassle it is to be investigated for shooting a bear. Does the term, "Shoot, shovel and shut up," have any meaning to you? Where do you think that came from?

It only makes sense that more bears mean more attacks. And the statistics back that up. Only the stats don't show an equal increase in attacks to bears ratio. If there's 5 times more bears and only double the listed attacks then something is fishy isn't it?

I live in these areas. I have been stalked by bears and threatened by bears. You'll have a hard time convincing me that a person shouldn't be concerned with them. I know a lot of bears get moved from one area to another too. The reason for that is that those bears start causing problems with humans.

You may want to visit this web page (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/bear-attacks-rise-19993295) for some up to date information on the subject. Or maybe this story (http://www.fox11online.com/news/local/north-counties/bear-attacks-raise-concerns) from earlier this year. Yeah there's no increase in bear attacks. If you do a search you'll find a lot of stories like these about bear attacks being on the rise. And like I said people don't have to die for there to have been a bear attack. And I've seen bears do exactly what the outdoor shop owner talks about - they stood their ground and didn't run - they aren't scared of people like they once were. There's a lot more information I could give you on this subject but my post is already too long. Just know that I've been threatened at least 3 times and maybe more. I've seen some bear actions that I didn't know if they were threats or not. I live in a wild area and I spend a lot of time in wild areas. I know what's going on in my back yard friend.

Cee Zee
September 9, 2013, 05:26 AM
After having been to Gatlinburg and the surrounding parts of the park this spring, I agree with this comment as it relates to wildlife. There is so many damn people that you would never see a bear or any other wild animal.

Many years ago I saw a bear on the mountain about half the way up to Ober Gatlingburg (it wasn't even there at the time if that tells you anything but it was right under the spot where it would eventually be). We were picking blackberries in this giant blackberry patch. We drove up a road to that place but I'm sure I couldn't even find it now. I haven't been to Gatlinburg in quite a while.

460Kodiak
September 9, 2013, 07:57 PM
Yep, GSMNP is far too busy and gets far too much attention for drug operations. Cherokee and other national forests (and big pieces of private property abbuting them) do have problems, but they get far less traffic and far less oversight.

I agree that chances of running into any trouble are very small. My comment If an animal or dope grower is attacking me, I don't give a darn what is legal and what isn't. I'm gonna shoot if I'm legally allowed to carry.
is a general rule for any place I'm allowed to carry, since I do live in a remote place, and do wander through places where such problems exist.

I just find the comments about legalities of shooting in a park to be funny. If it means a legal battle and surviving a bad situation, I'll shoot. Legal has nothing to do with the decision, IMO, to fire if you aren't looking for trouble, and your life has been put in danger. I value my life more than my money and I do realize I'd lose a lot if ever in the situation. Lawyer fees alone would be insane.

Now if you are making poor decisions and have created the situation, well obviously you are in for more of a problem afterwards.

Hope to God I never have to be in this situation.

22-rimfire
September 9, 2013, 09:10 PM
I just find the comments about legalities of shooting in a park to be funny. If it means a legal battle and surviving a bad situation, I'll shoot. Legal has nothing to do with the decision, IMO, to fire if you aren't looking for trouble, and your life has been put in danger. I value my life more than my money and I do realize I'd lose a lot if ever in the situation. Lawyer fees alone would be insane.

Now if you are making poor decisions and have created the situation, well obviously you are in for more of a problem afterwards.

Hope to God I never have to be in this situation.

I also agree with you NOW. But what about prior to it being legal to carry a concealed firearm inside National Parks? Same belief...? Common law application? (Just exploring the concept... not picking.)

460Kodiak
September 10, 2013, 12:57 AM
Fair enough. No, not the same belief. I WILL NOT and have not carried where prohibited willfully. I will however carry pepper spray or bear spray if legal.

The one place I've ever screwed up was at my local post office. I walked in armed and totally forgot I even had a gun on me since I carry when ever it is permitted. I realized as I was turning the key on my P.O. Box what I had done and I left as quickly and quietly as I could. Stupid mistake and I'm more careful now.

22-rimfire
September 10, 2013, 12:13 PM
I feel the same way. One can extrapolate common law rights to justify carrying a gun prior to the law change.

Here in TN, the rangers seldom enforced the gun restriction inside the national forests unless there were other concerns (at least that is what a ranger told me). Pretty much just keep the firearm out of sight and don't use it unless you have to. No plinking. However, I never tested the theory personally.

dbp
September 10, 2013, 12:55 PM
I live in (on ;)) Cosby, about 8 miles from the park.
Oh yeah! Carver's Applehouse Rest.!!

We rent a friend's cabin on Cosby Creek a couple times a year. Beautiful places in that area of the park.

Magoo
September 10, 2013, 01:11 PM
Beautiful area indeed. I didn't end up here accidentally ;).

Since it seems so many members visit the area, and to keep it firearms related (without debating bear calibers), I'll throw out a plug for one of my neighbors:

http://www.outdoorsinthesmokies.com/shooting-instruction-range/

Dan is one heck of a nice guy and I'm sure could accommodate lots of different types of training/coaching. Don't hesitate to contact him if you're at all interested. He's less than a mile from me so if anyone does go there be sure to give me a shout and stop by for a beer afterwards.

SilentStalker
September 10, 2013, 01:34 PM
Ok, I am planning a trip here and other places in late October to get some hiking and photography in. I will be carrying, no doubt about it. Now the question is do I carry concealed or carry in my pack or what? In my pack to me would be stupid because it will take too long to retrieve if need be. So, that is out I think. Any pointers you guys can offer there?

As far as a knife, what is the largest knife one can carry in a state park? I have all kinds of fixed blades but none that are folders or that are really all that small. Water will definitely be carried. Anything else?

Do you guys think that Bears will be out and about in late October still?

22-rimfire
September 10, 2013, 03:00 PM
There will still be bears out in late October, for sure. They will likely be hitting the acorns at that point.

I have been known to slip my carry gun inside a day pack, but generally speaking I agree with you. Access is too slow. In my case, it was simply to get it out of the way when I was doing other stuff.

I carry a fair amount in the fall and winter on trails when you wear a jacket in a regular belt holster. The jacket sufficiently hides the firearm. In TN, you are technically allowed to carry non-concealed (OC) with a valid permit. It is easier on the trail or stomping around in the woods to simply have it on my belt and with a shirt or whatever hanging down, few ever notice. I would not suggest OC wandering around downtown Nashville or Memphis.

As far as I know, the legal blade length is 3". But in the woods, no body cares and that includes in national parks unless you get in a fight or something. I carry whatever fixed blade I feel like inside GSMNP and the state parks. It is perfectly normal to be carrying a knife in the woods. One thing to remember inside national parks, it is technically illegal to be cutting branches and trees and so forth. You can't even legally pick up a rock and carry it out. Sounds stupid. But that's the case. Just be rational in your choices. I would not carry a machete for example on trails. No need for one.

460Kodiak
September 10, 2013, 04:34 PM
I open carry in National Forests and Grasslands. I cc in parks unless I'm in grizz country and carrying something large. I have no desire to have liberals freak out because "There's a guy with a gun over there!"

JMO

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