You are here

Cherry-Loving Bears Lead To Closure Of Gregory Bald Area At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Alternate Text
This shot was taken in Cades Cove with a telephoto lens/NPS-Jim Bennett.

Bears have a sweet tooth, too. And that's why the Gregory Bald area at Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been temporarily closed to humans. The reason is the cherry crop that has attracted black bears looking for a tasty meal.

Park officials say the temporary closure includes the Gregory Bald Trail and Wolf Ridge Trail from Parson Bald to Gregory Bald. 

At least a dozen bears are concentrated on Gregory Bald feeding on ripe cherries. The situation has led to several close encounters between hikers and bears creating an unacceptable safety risk, according to park officials. Wildlife biologists are monitoring the area and expect the bears to disperse when the food source has been depleted.

'œWe regret the inconvenience to park visitors who were looking forward to a hike to Gregory Bald,' said acting-Superintendent Cindy MacLeod. 'œHowever, we feel this temporary closure is necessary to ensure the bears have an opportunity to feed undisturbed on natural foods and also to protect our visitors from defensive bear behavior.'


There is quite the buzz around the Smokies that actress Ashley Judd backpacked into the closed campsite and spent the night with her dog in the backcountry, which is strictly prohibited.  Calls to the backcountry office confirmed that she did backpack in but stayed below the closed campsite.  Park officials would not comment on whether or not she was allowed to have a dog in tow on a special use permit but her twitter feed does show her holding a dog in front of flame azaleas for which Gregory's Bald is well know.  A well known guide service in the area, A Walk in the Woods owner, proclaimed that there is a special use exemption for "service animals" and insinuated that she (Judd) suffers from bipolar disorder.    

And none of us here are surprised one bit that the park mgmt could or would make such an exemption, especially considering their history with well connected folks.

I thought the country was already owned and run by well connected folks.  If you can afford to buy it, you can have it.  Besides, she's probably incorporated the dog and corporations are people, so what's the fuss?


I thought the country was already owned and run by well connected folks.

You thought wrong.

Besides, she's probably incorporated the dog

Probably not, but then lets just cast aspersions and not address the issue.  Are some people getting special privledges in the Smokies.  Sure looks that way from what had been presented.  Would sure like to see evidence it isn't so. 




Smokiesbackpacker, I know little about this specific incident, but permits are issued for persons with disabilities, sightseeing dogs, hearing impaired, other disabling issues. Sometimes it is a judgement call, but I have issued some of these permits myself. Actually we can also issue permits for those confined to wheelchairs. I was never called to do one, but have seen wheelchairs, very rarely I might add,  on park trails. Someone more up to date on the issue may perhaps respond. 

noun: sarcasm; plural noun: sarcasms
the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
"his voice, hardened by sarcasm, could not hide his resentment"
synonyms:derision, mockery, ridicule, scorn, sneering, scoffing;


In this case, directed toward those who use their connections to gain special privileges in GRSM (and other places as well).  Sarcasm directed toward those of wealth and power in such places as business, banking, Wall Street, political parties, self-centered celebrities, and countless others who feel entitled to tromp on those of us who are not so well endowed with dollars or family or political connections.  Exactly the kind of practices and people we've seen some commenters ardently defend in these very pages.


Her dog definitely appears to be wearing a service animal vest in this photo

There was a notice in the Federal Register in April for comments regarding NPS updating rules on service animals(comment period closed in June). Knoxnews had a story in May about service animals in the Smokies.

"Under the American with Disabilities Act, a service animal must perform some function or task that the individual with a disability can’t perform on their own. While the park places tight restrictions on pets — dogs are only allowed in front country campgrounds, picnic areas, and roads, and must be on a leash at all times — the rules pertaining to service animals are more relaxed."

However, there are more and more pet owners who are abusing the service and support animal laws.  As a result, there is a growing backlash.  Much of the backlash is coming from persons who have legitimate need for SERVICE animal.



This picture seems to suggest a dog backpack, though.  It will be interesting to find out if Judd had the right "papers.", huh?

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments