AVERY COUNTY, N.C. (WJHL) – A beloved Appalachian Trail shelter on Yellow Mountain in Avery County has been closed until further notice.
According to a Facebook post by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the National Forest Service Appalachian Ranger District has closed the Overmountain Shelter.
According to the ATC, NFS engineers have found that the building is structurally unsound and not safe for campers and hikers to stay in.
The large, bright red barn is a popular stop for thru- and section hikers on both the Appalachian Trail and Overmountain Trail. The paths intersect near the barn.
“People from all over have loved camping inside this old barn,” said District Ranger Richard Thornburgh, “but now there’s a real risk of it collapsing. Unfortunately, the barn was not originally designed to accommodate human occupancy. Slope movement has caused a significant downhill lean in the structure and a support beam snapped under the large upper loft where people sleep. The wood posts are rotting away. Strong winds from storms and heavy snow loads in the winter place additional stress on the structure. The elements have just taken their toll to the extent that, despite efforts to maintain it, the Overmountain Shelter has reached the point where it’s not safe to be inside the building.”
According to the ATC, the Overmountain Shelter was originally a barn on a private farm. It was bought by the NFS in the late 1970s and added to the Pisgah National Forest.
“The Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club converted the barn into use as a trail shelter for the Appalachian Trail and provided basic maintenance for the structure.”
The fields around the shelter are still open for tent camping.
“We’re just telling hikers not to pitch their tent within 40 feet of the shelter in event that there is a structural failure,” said Thornburgh.