In the last five years, I’ve noticed a lot more backcountry visitors to Panthertown Valley during my day and overnight hikes in the area. It seems the bears have followed. The US Forest Service in North Carolina issed this alert on October 29th:
JACKSON COUNTY, N.C. — The U.S. Forest Service is discouraging people from backcountry camping and from bringing food into the Panthertown Valley area of the Nantahala Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, following several bear encounters. The area is northeast of Cashiers, N.C.
If the visitors choose to camp in the Panthertown area, they should camp in areas that are used infrequently.
Three separate incidences of bear encounters occurred recently that involved damaged tents and stolen food. Some of the food was properly hung in trees. No injuries were reported. The incidents occurred in the vicinity of the Mac’s Gap, Green Valley and the Little Green Mountain area.
We’ve seen bears in the nearby Gorges State Park, but they ran on sight. So this is a new and unfortunate occurance because Panthertown Valley is such a great overnight destination. Will the coming hunting season have an impact? I guess we’ll see next Spring.