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Day Hikes in Great Smokey Mtn. Nat'l Park

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Tortuga12, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. Tortuga12

    Tortuga12 Well-Known Member

    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!
  2. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    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.
  3. twofifty

    twofifty Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

    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?
  5. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

    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.
  7. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    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

  8. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    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.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  9. Bullz

    Bullz Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. Curator

    Curator Well-Known Member


    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.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  11. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Well-Known Member

    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.
  12. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

    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.
  13. Magoo

    Magoo Well-Known Member

    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.
  14. carbine85

    carbine85 Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. Magoo

    Magoo Well-Known Member

    ^^^ 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.
  17. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    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.
  18. Magoo

    Magoo Well-Known Member

    I live in (on ;)) Cosby, about 8 miles from the park.
  19. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

    I would like to see the reference for that, since it is incorrect.

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