(WBIR) The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has temporarily closed several trails after hikers experienced close encounters with bears.
Over the weekend, two women saw a bear near the Noah Bud Ogle Cabin while hiking on the nature trail. The women tried to give the bear space by backing down the trail, but the bear continued to follow the women for up to a half mile.
Park officials also said at least a dozen bears are in the Gregory Bald area feeding on ripe cherries.
Park wildlife biologist Bill Stiver said bears are underweight and stressed this year because of the harsh winter and a low acorn supply last autumn.
Although rare, park officials said bears have attacked people in the past. Officials encourage hikers to travel in groups of three or more.
Closed trails and campsites
- Gregory Bald Trail
- Wolf Ridge Trail between Parson Bald and the junction of Gregory Bald Trail
- Twin Creeks Trail
- Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail
- Noah Bud Ogle Cabin and parking area
- Spence Field Shelter
- Backcountry campsites 13, 18, 21 and 113
- Appalachian Trail for Shuckstack to Doe Knob
- Bull Head Trail
- Rainbow Falls Trail
- Old Sugarlands Trail
- Baskins Creek Trail
- Trillium Gap Trail
- Curry Mountain Trail
- Laurel Falls Trail
- Mollies Ridge Shelter
- Backcountry Campsite 24
Click here for information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking.