Bearwallow Mountain Trail Temporarily Closed To Protect From Freeze/Thaw Damage - February 6th

CMLC’s Bearwallow Mountain Trail is CLOSED temporarily,

effective Monday, February 6th, 2017, to protect it from damage during the freeze/thaw cycle following significant ice accumulation and subsequent wet and delicate soil conditions. Recent warm weather has led to a significant thaw event that has left the trail particualrly muddy and wet. 

The summit of Bearwallow Mountain remains OPEN.

Visitors/hikers may walk the gravel road to the top of the peak during this trail closure. Please help CMLC take good care of this special place by avoiding use of the Trail and instead choosing to walk the gravel road.

We hope to reopen the trail as soon as possible. Trail closure is expected to last only a few days; conditions will be reassessed soon and the trail will be re-opened once it is determined to be less susceptible to tread damage.

Because of the Bearwallow Mountain Trail’s immense popularity and high frequency of foot traffic, its natural surface tread is particularly susceptible to damage following the accumulation of snow and ice and the freezing of its soil followed by thawing. Use of this trail during the freeze/thaw cycle can wreak havoc on its sustainability and lead to significant damage that requires considerable repair while also negatively impacting the experience of its users in the future. Soil is upheaved in the freezing process, and when stepped on by foot-traffic it is crunched, and melted—a recipe that quickly results in substantial mud and soil displacement. Thus, walking on the trail at this time will damage it.

In 2016, this process occurred repeatedly and frequently which ultimately prompted CMLC to close the Bearwallow Mountain Trail for several weeks at the end of winter—but only after the damage was done. This Winter, CMLC will strive to lessen the total impact and damage by shorter-term closures based on conditions. Closures should typically persist only a few days to a week, though more significant snow and ice accumulation and/or longer periods of freezing temperatures may cause longer closures. These closures will protect both the trail tread as well as the surrounding natural resources and prevent compounded damages that have occurred in the past under winter conditions.

At this time, other CMLC trails in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge will remain open. While comprehensive closure of CMLC trails may be also beneficial, these other trails are less susceptible to damage than Bearwallow Mountain because they receive less traffic while also being at lower elevations. Increased traffic on other CMLC trails in the future may eventually cause the need for their temporarily closure during the winter as well.

For questions or more information, contact Peter Barr, CMLC Trails Coordinator, at

Thank you for helping us protect the Bearwallow Mountain Trail!

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