We noted work to rehab the Appalachian Trail's Cold Springs Shelter in a roundup of National Forest Service announcements in September, which said the work would go through mid-December. But the Forest Service said last week the shelter has reopened.
The Nantahala Hiking Club repaired the bottom seal and footers to add stability to the shelter, the Forest Service says.
Cold Springs Shelter is one of about 250 shelters along the 2,181-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail available for hikers.
The shelter is in the Nantahala National Forest 1.3 miles north of Burningtown Gap, a trailhead accessed from State Road 1310 (Wayah Road), between U.S. 64 west of Franklin and U.S. 19 at the Nantahala River rafting put-in location, according to the Nantahala Hiking Club.
The project includes construction of a new one-mile Blue Loop, which will "open a large new section of Museum Park to the public," according to a news release announcing the project last summer. The Blue Loop will be open to walking and cycling and will circle a forest and meadow. It will be part of Raleigh's Capital Area Greenway Trail System.
Existing trails at Museum Park, the longest of which is flanked by artwork, will remain open during the project.
A $550,000 gift from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to the art museum is paying for the new trail and other work at Museum Park.
Three recent incidents involving bears in the Panthertown Valley Backcountry Area of the Nantahala National Forest have prompted a warning from the National Forest Service.
The Forest Service "is discouraging people from backcountry camping and from bringing food into the Panthertown Valley area," a news release says. Camp in areas that are used infrequently if you choose to camp in the area, it says.
Recent bear encounters near Mac’s Gap, Green Valley and the Little Green Mountain area resulted in damaged tents and stolen food, but no injuries.
The 6,300-acre backcountry northeast of Cashiers has about 25 miles of trails offering routes to scenic views, rock outcrops and waterfalls.
Here are some more opportunities for camping in the Nantahala National Forest.
They were closed Friday in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey Monday night.
In the Croatan, which is south of New Bern, "There was little-to-no damage to campgrounds or day-use areas in the national forest," a Forest Service news release says.
On the Outer Banks, the National Park Service says in an alert on its webpages for Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial they hope to reopen the parks Wednesday after completing damage assessments.
In the Smokies, Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441), Clingmans Dome Road, Cataloochee Entrance Road and Old N.C. 284 between Big Creek and Cataloochee are closed because of snow and ice.
@BLUE_RDGE_PKWY said this morning, "Snow, ice, and high winds in all parts of the Parkway this morning... many closed gates... travel not recommended."
Weather-related closing are not uncommon in the mountains this time of year, so be sure to check with the parks if you have plans to visit.
Tweets in the last hour by national parks units that make up the Outer Banks Group - Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial - say they have closed all park operations because of inclement weather related to Hurricane Sandy.
@CapeHatterasNPS: Park facilities will remain closed through Monday due to Hurricane Sandy impacts.
@FortRaleighNPS: Park facilities will remain closed through Monday due to Hurricane Sandy impacts.
@WrightBrosNPS: Park facilities will remain closed through Monday due to Hurricane Sandy impacts.
On Friday, the parks announced that visitor centers at the three parks would close at the end of the day Saturday and that Ocracoke Campground on Hatteras Island would close for the season at noon Saturday.
Three state parks have closed in anticipation of bad weather and other parks east of Interstate 95 are subject to closing on short notice as Hurricane Sandy passes the North Carolina coast.
Additionally, ferry service and camping is suspended at Hammocks Beach State Park, the four-wheel-drive access beach at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is closed, and all trials at Pettigrew State Park are closed.
Before visiting a state park east of I-95, call the individual park office for conditions or check the state parks' Alerts page.
National and state parks in North Carolina have announced closings and cancellations as the state awaits Hurricane Sandy's trek up the East Coast.
The Cape Lookout advisory says visitors staying in the island rental cabins or on the beaches are advised to leave the islands or to seek areas that are protected from overwash. Vehicle ferries were to stop taking visitors to the islands today and work to remove visitors.
Visitor Centers in the Outer Banks Group, which includes Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial, will remain open until close of business Saturday then remain closed until further notice, a news release for the three parks says.
Ocracoke Campground, the last Cape Hatteras campground open this season, will close at noon on Saturday for the season (the season would have extended through Monday).
Park beaches at Hatteras will close to off-road vehicles by 5 p.m. on Saturday and remain closed until further notice.
The Forest Service plans to keep roads in Croatan National Forest open through the weekend.
North Carolina state parks affected by the storm - Jockey's Ridge, Dismal Swamp, Carolina Beach, Hammocks Beach, Lake Waccamaw, Merchants Millpond, Pettigrew and Goose Creek - will announce plans individually, possibly on short notice.
In addition to those parks, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area has announced that its Fall Festival and Haunted Trail scheduled for Saturday evening have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. The Halloween program at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park set for Saturday has been cancelled as well.
Hurricane Sandy is being called a major threat to portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
A series of bear attacks in recent weeks has caused the U.S. Forest Service to halt camping in the Shining Rock Wilderness and Graveyard Fields areas of the Pisgah National Forest, the Forest Service said today.
A bear damaged a tent and food bag in the area Monday night. Two people were in the tent at the time of the encounter, but no one was injured.
The Shining Rock Wilderness is a rugged 18,000-acre area with about 40 miles of trails among steep elevation changes off of U.S. 276 and N.C. 215 southwest of Waynesville. Graveyard Fields is a high valley within the wilderness.
The Forest Service says it will monitor conditions to determine when it is safe to reopen the wilderness area to camping. Contact the Pisgah Ranger District at 828-877-3265 with questions.
Here are some additional Pisgah Forest camping sites.
Campout! Carolina is an annual event that encourages individuals and community groups across the state to show their support for a healthy environment by camping out in their backyard or favorite camping site, the website says. EarthShare North Carolina, a coalition of over 60 non-profit organizations working throughout North Carolina to preserve and protect our environment, is in its sixth year of sponsoring Campout! Carolina.
In addition to enjoying the fun of getting outdoors, if you register your campout you'll be entered into a drawing for a REI Kingdom 6 Tent. Early registrants qualified to win tickets to last weekend's Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance.
After your camping trip, get into the photo contest for a $50 REI gift card.
You can also get your campout plotted on a map of participants, which was showing about 100 campsites across the state as of this writing.
And, if you're looking for a place to camp besides your backyard, Carolina Outdoors Guide, which is proud to be on the Campout! Carolina site, has directories of campgrounds and campsites across the state that range from full-service family camping to primitive hike-in and canoe-in sites at North Carolina's national parks, national forests, state parks and state forests, Department of Defense installations, and Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority reservoirs. These are all public sites supported by your tax dollars, so they are there for you to use and enjoy.
It's important to know that the 45-site campground near New Bern is listed with Recreation.gov under its local name, Flanners Beach Campground. A search for "Neuse River Campground" returns a long list of sites with "river" in the name, but not what you're looking for.
A news release from the National Forest Service says that "Campers will be unable to reserve sites 1, 10, 11, 15, 19, 29 and 31 at the campground, as the sites will remain first-come, first-serve." However, Recreation.gov says the campground has 41 sites (22 with electricity, 19 without) and lists them all as available for reservation. (The National Forest website for North Carolina says there are 45 campsites at Neuse River Campground.)
Regardless, if any site is vacant when a camper shows up they can have it for three days, the news release says. Reservations should be made three days in advance, and if a reservable site occupied by a walk-in camper for three days has been reserved after the third day, the camper on it will have to move.
Neuse River/Flanners Beach is a full-service family campground (showers, flush toilets, etc., renovated in 2011). It is mainly an RV campground; tents are allowed and would do fine in the sandy soil, but there are no tent pads. It also has hiking and mountain biking trails and allows swimming in the river.