black bears in the great smoky mountains

Black Bear Great Smoky Mountains Park

Black Bear Great Smoky Mountains Park

A black bear climbing a tree in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many park visitors miss bears because they only look at ground level and do not look up into the treetops.

Bears climb trees for protection and to feed on nuts and fruit. This is especially true in Autumn as the bears fatten up for their long winter naps.

Always keep in mind that black bears are wild animals that can easily outrun an adult human. Never approach a bear in the wild, never provoke a bear in the wild and never ever ever feed a bear in the wild. Feeding bears alters their natural proclivities and could lead to behavior that endangers bear and people alike.

Black Bear Great Smoky Mountains 3

Black Bear Great Smoky Mountains 3

A black bear in the Cherokee Orchard section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Richard Weisser.

How to Find Bears in Great Smoky Mountains

How to Find Black Bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Black Bear near Roaring Fork
Black Bear near Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

When visitors are asked why they come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park there are many common answers.

They come for the incomparable mountain views, the over eight hundred miles of hiking trails, the historic structures, the crystal clear streams, rivers and waterfalls and of course the wildlife…

Especially black bears!

Unfortunately many would-be bear spotters have unrealistic expectations when it come to seeing bears in the Smoky Mountains. Although current populations are at historically high numbers, black bears are reclusive and tend to avoid contact with humans. So the odds of actually seeing a bear during a casual visit are not very good. Continue reading