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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Bloomington, IN

    Default Who's Been Fined?

    I'm sick of hearing all these doomsayer posts about getting fined for not having shelter reservations or camping somewhere you're not allowed.

    Has anyone actually been fined while on the AT?
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

  2. #2
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Ooltewah, TN


    I haven't been fined, but I was at Spence Field Shelter in May 2008 when a group of four came into the shelter. A ridgerunner was there and asked if they had reservations for the shelter. They replied no. He explained they would have to get a cell phone signal and call for a reservation or hike on to a site which did not require reservations (meaning down off the AT). They replied there was no word of this in their guidebooks, and eventually it came out that they were thru-hiking, though late in the season. The ridgerunner then explained they were OK.

    A ridgerunner wouldn't be able to fine a hiker, but he could have made the day somewhat longer than expected. A ranger would actually be able to fine someone, though again, he might simply tell you hike on.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  3. #3
    1,630 miles and counting earlyriser26's Avatar
    Join Date
    Maidens, VA


    I have hiked the smokies 7X and tented about half the time. Only had a few encounters with park staff and they never said a word. If you follow LNT policy and are not a jerk when questioned, you will likey not be fined. Fines are rare and I have never seen one unless someone was really out of line.
    There are so many miles and so many mountains between here and there that it is hardly worth thinking about

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Hamilton, NJ


    Quote Originally Posted by emerald View Post
    The person was in the park with a dog which is not permitted. You don't really think the person should have been given the option of exiting the park with the dog, do you? What message would that response have sent?
    Are you serious? Your right, it would create mass hysteria on the trail and future generations will follow in the footsteps of defiance. You speak as if the man is doing something horribly wrong and should be punished for his actions

    I'd.m not saying everyone should just say screw the rules and do whatever they want but it just seems extreme to me. I don't think the trail would collapse if we don't make 'examples' of people hiking with their dogs in sections where it is not permitted. Its one thing to enforce rules, its another to feel like your king of the AT telling innocent hikers your going to arrest them and put their dog in the pound.
    Smile, Smile, Smile.... Mile after Mile

  5. #5
    So many trails... so little time. Many Walks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Northern California


    Just a thought on permits and fire regulations.

    We've had our permits checked in various parks and believe they didn't spend their day in the woods just to emerge and let violations go without a ticket. I would expect fines to be a bigger part of their revenue as budgets continue to dwindle. To me it makes more sense to understand the rules and spend a few bucks for a permit than to pay a $100 + fine.

    The guy who told the ranger to write the ticket then went ahead to light the fire, may be viewed as a hero by some, but take it a step further. Should something have happened and the fire spread to the forest he's no longer looking at a $75 fine. He could have opened himself up to the full liability of paying for the total cost related to damages and putting out a forest fire, or at least a huge attorney fee to counter the charge. For all the damage and the hassle it just doesn't seem worth it. Once the fire is tracked back to where the ticket was written he'd be in a world of hurt. That would definitely make a hike take a turn for the worst.
    That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. Henry David Thoreau

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Tampa, FL


    I was at Pine Hut in SNP a few years back on a long section hike. It was Saturday evening and the shelter was full plus all the overflow camping had reached the limit. A ranger came in with his ticket book in-hand and demanded to see everyones backcountry permit. He had a very forward and authoritatve attitude. A few people in the shelter were scrambling through their stuff to find the permit but all eventually came up with it (some wadded up). He ended up ticketing a couple of campers (I think it was $50 back in 2003). Once he was done with his business, he really changed his attitude and talked to all the people in the shelter very nicely and was asking how their hike was going, etc.
    I figure these guys have to be like that to justify their jobs. Just like any law enforcement, they don't give very many breaks.... and they do have to write tickets periodically.

  7. #7


    Have not been personally fined, however...

    In 2000 while camping at a hut in SNP (don't remember which hut), at around 8AM a ranger walked in from a nearby parking area and proceeded to write tickets for everyone tenting outside designated tent sites (one of which I occupied). Some of them didn't take very kindly being rousted and fined and told the ranger they'll refuse to pay the fine. Ranger said, "That's okay, your tickets are entered in the nationwide driver's database (he did collect IDs). If you don't pay and/or don't convince a judge of your innocence, you'll eventually find your drivers license is suspended".

    They have the power, get over it!

  8. #8


    WOW! I read a lot of posts on a lot of different threads. Haven't seen a more direct, honestly answered, to the point answer, that I also believe is SO RIGHT ON, than Emerald's first post on page 1 of this thread or Rainman's last paragraph also on page 1. Those who would seek to go off on tangents, what if's, and but's need to read, AND THEN REREAD those posts!

    The AT would be a better place if we all adopted those thoughts in those two posts!

    To answer your question FredMugs, I saw one person fined in that 18 mile or so no camping area in PA north of Boiling Springs and one person in Shenandoah NP in 2006 on the AT. Both, knowingly broke the regs after previously being advised/informed by authorities of them. Both times the people who were fined were given warnings, failed to heed those warnings, and were consequently fined. I was there for one and heard the story of how the other person was fined by the person who got fined.

    I have been in 30 something NPs and at least twice that amount of SPs in various states, met far more law enforcement than I can recall, and have yet to encounter one who was quick to fine anyone that cooperated with the laws. That even includes local police, state troopers, and wildlife enforcement(Fish and Game). Let them catch you trying to bull**** them and you stand a higher chance of being fined! What I've always noticed is that when a fine is given it's usually at the bottom of the list of what law enforcement wants.

    Losing the "I''ll do as I please" or "what can I get away with" or "argumentative"mentalities, consideration of other people's needs for resources, consideration of the regs/laws, that are in place to protect those resources, and respect for law enforcement can go a long way!

    As you are nearing GSMNP I understand your concern, and possible confusion, with some of the shelter regs. especially as a thru-hiker, in the NP. I, at first, was also confused as an AT thru-hiker. You might check directly with GSMNP with the shelter regs honestly explaining to them your situation and concerns as a thru-hiker.

    Not so sure this is correct:

    A hiker asks: I have a reservation for a specific GSMNP shelter. If I get there and it's full can I sleep in my tent?

    WB Responder: No. You have to sleep in the shelter or you'll get fined.

    I'm not talking about anyone intentionally trying to stealth 2 miles away from a shelter.

    I've seen similar posts about people being told they will be forced from the trail if the can't make it to the shelter they have a reservation for. That would be interesting to see.

    I think I remember hearing something different from GSMNP rangers!

    Have a great hike Fred!

  9. #9


    Like many, I've been asked for my permit, never been fined, but I have seen fines passed out. In the GSMNP, it is a federal offense and defying the PTB can have unforeseen consequences. It's not really worth it. I realize that it's a big shift from USFS lands, but it's really best to conform in the long run...

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