View Full Version : Watauga Lake Shelter (south of Damascus)

Not Sunshine
06-25-2017, 16:17
Does anyone have an update on the Watauga Lake Shelter?

I was section hiking just south of Damascus on June 21 and saw mention that it was closed due to bear activity. :confused:

I was hoping they'd relocate said bear before another upcoming section hike.

Anyone know more?


06-25-2017, 17:23
Its not just "a" bear

Its been closed every year the last 4 yrs

Not just the shelter, the whole corridor in the closure gets closed to public use except for AT traffic.

It might or might not be lifted around august. March closure was probably for 120 days....unless extended.

Tennessee Viking
06-26-2017, 09:18
The issue is not just with Watauga Lake Shelter and a single bear...its the entire section from US321 > Wilbur Dam Road.
1. The section is in between 2 bear sanctuaries
2. The area has been a fishermen camp and party area by lake goers/locals and some irresponsible hikers for years. Bears have been attracted to the left behind trash and fish/bait from lake goers. There was an increase in hiker/bear encounters prior to the closures. USFS/TVA/ATC/TEHCC decided to restrict the section to hiking activities only; no camping/fishing/picnicking.

Since this section is so close to Hampton and hostels and the section is only a handful of miles, closing the shelter and camping was considered the best solution for passive enforcement. USFS and TN Wildlife have relocated a number of bears miles away. But wildlife studies still showed a number of bears still around the lake. So stopping the attraction of hikers camping, fishing, and partying has been planned until the bears move elsewhere on their own.