Summer Safety Tips for Bears in the Smokies, Hiking & More

The mountains are calling and it is time to go exploring! Before you leave the comfort of your Pigeon Forge cabin, however, there are a few things to remember while out adventuring through rugged terrains and the natural habitats of wild animals. Safety is key to a great time and awesome memories while you hike, play, and relax in the Smoky Mountains this summer. Safety does not start once you are out wandering through the hiking trails of the Smokies. It starts at home! Pigeon Forge, TN Cabins wants you to get the most out of your summer vacation by avoiding any preventable hiccups. We have pointers for every step of the way!

Getting There

  1. Get a Tune-Up
    You definitely don’t want to be concerned with car problems on the way to your cabin or while you are driving the scenic roads of Newfound Gap or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

    • Check the tread on your tires, especially because the Smoky Mountains see more rainfall in July, on average, than any other month of the year.
    • If you are close to your next oil change, go ahead and do so. Most mechanic shops offer 21-point checks of your car engine along with your oil change at no extra charge.

  2. Pack Smart
    Overpacking means your car’s engine has to do more work when going up and down the winding foothills and mountains of the Smokies. Too many suitcases can also obstruct your view while driving or make for an uncomfortable car ride! Plus, most of our cabins have a washer/dryer, so it’s easy to pack light!

    Pack an all-emergencies kit in your vehicle. This includes nutritional, vehicular, and medicinal emergencies.

    • Keep a car kit with jumper cables, lug wrench, jack, reflective road markers, and bungee-chords.
    • A safety kit with first-aid supplies will come in handy for your clumsier children on your hikes to Laurel Falls and Andrews Bald.
    • A nutritional, or what we like to call a “kids’ kit,” includes snacks, water bottles, light blankets, and extra clothing for accidents.

  3. Avoid Driver Fatigue
    Yes, we know you are excited to arrive to your dream cabin in the Smokies, but according to the AAA Foundation, police reported over 100,000 car crashes caused by driver fatigue.

    • Take breaks on long drives.
    • Avoid over-using cruise control (it’s easy to lose focus).
    • Know your route before leaving the house, even if you have a GPS.


Bear Safety

Explore the natural beauty of the federally protected land of the Smoky Mountains during your visit to Pigeon Forge! While exploring through Cades Cove, Newfound Gap, and Wears Valley, you will be afforded incredible views of nature and the local wildlife. You are a guest in these animals’ homes, so it is good to know the etiquette for your safety and theirs!

Bears have gotten a bad reputation from some very avoidable situations, so here are a few safety tips so you and the bear can go unharmed and coexist in the Smoky Mountains:

  • While getting a really awesome picture of a black bear sounds cool, never approach a bear. This may sound like a “duh” piece of advice, but it cannot go unsaid.
  • Never leave food out on the trails or throw food towards a bear. You are now, literally, fishing for black bears. This is not a catch you want to reel in.
  • Stay calm. Screaming or running will excite the bear’s instincts. Bears want to be left alone, most of the time.
  • Pick up small children.
  • Look big by moving your arms up or moving to some higher ground.
  • Move slowly away from the bear by walking straight back, because turning and walking or running may cause the bear to charge.

The National Park Service offers more detailed information on bear safety, along with fun ways to safely view bears in their natural habitats!

Hiking Safety

Now that you’re not scared of meeting the wildlife, it’s good to know how to take care of yourself and fellow hikers out on the trails!

Choose the right trail
The Smoky Mountains are a great place to start as a beginner wandering the blazed trails! Travelers are afforded incredible views of miles of rolling mountains and majestic waterfalls even on easy, shorter hikes. However, if you choose a trail that overextends your body, you can do damage to your muscles and tendons!

Stay on the blazed trails
The Smoky Mountains have 800 miles of blazed trails identified by color-coded markers. Obviously, you don’t want to get lost in the woods, but the paths are not blazed for your safety only! Foot traffic through the woods can damage the plants and well-hidden animal habitats.

You are afforded plenty of beautiful views of caves, rivers, mountains, and forestry on the blazed trails through the lush forestry!

Stay hydrated
Tennessee, even though the elevated climates are some of the most perfect days to be had outside, experiences some pretty hot days in the summer. (You are in the South, and there is a reason Southern belles always carried fans.) Hydration does not start on the trail! You should drink water for your health, but make a conscious effort on days you know you will be spending outside during your stay in the Smokies!

Want more information on trails, safety, and more? Click here!