View Full Version : Standing Indian - Carters Gap - AT Closure

11-24-2016, 23:19
Due to several large forest fires, the AT is closed from Dicks Creek Gap going north to the Nantahala River by order of the National Forest until further notice. The forest fires tend to stay on the ground, burning up the occasional dead tree. The vast majority of live trees are OK and from a short distance you can't tell there has been a fire. Falling leaves have been a big issue re-igniting some areas. The mountains are so absolutely dry that many rhododendrons have burned (which according to some old-timers has never been seen before). Ultimately such fires are good for the forest, but a long period of rain is much needed (the National Weather Service says that might happen in February).

Don't be surprised if the National Forest managers close the AT all the way to Fontana. A huge fire is just up the road from Robbinsville, NC covering the southern half of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. This fire is referred to as the Maple Springs Fire.

A large forest fire, the result of arson, started near Tate City, GA and quickly spread up the mountains from Deep Gap NC to Standing Indian, to near Carters Gap. The fire is still very active spreading north and east down into the upper Nantahala River area. This fire is referred to as the Rock Mountain Fire.

I heard from one of the forest fire managers today that Standing Indian and Carters Gap shelters are OK as they managed the fire around them. National Forest fire fighters (from 43 states, no less) and local fire departments have been awesome in saving lives and structures.

At the same time, another fire started on the other side of the Tallulah River around Tate City, GA, burned through the Plum Orchard area to Blue Ridge Gap (Charlies Creek Road). The fire fighters took measures to prevent the Plum Orchard shelter from burning. There have been no fires around Muskrat shelter.

Also, Wesser Bald tower is fine, though there is a bulldozer line from Tellico Gap road up to the tower. Another large fire burned from Tellico Road north to US Hwy 19/74 that runs through Nantahala Road. This fire is referred to as the Tellico Fire is considered under control but actively watched.

There have been a few smaller fires near Wayah Bald. There are a number of fires east/north of the Smokies you may want to check on before hiking the AT in those areas.

In the areas where fire has been, in addition to burned vegetation and forest floor, expect to come across fire fighter activity such as trees cut down, fire lines created by hand and bulldozer. I'm sure AT cleanup will be a priority once the fires have ceased and we get some big time rain!

Drala Hiker