Overmountain Shelter on Pisgah National Forest in Avery County closed until further notice due to structural damage

Last Updated on November 10, 2019 11:21 am

Mars Hill, NC – September 4, 2019 – In order to protect public safety, the Appalachian Ranger District has closed the Overmountain Shelter which is located in Avery County near the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and Overmountain Victory Trail. U.S. Forest Service engineers have determined that the building has become structurally unsound and cannot safely accommodate people. Further evaluations will occur to identify viable management options for the site.

“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.”  

The Overmountain Shelter was originally a barn on a private farm that was acquired by the Forest Service in 1979 and became part of the Pisgah National Forest. The Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC) converted the barn into use as a trail shelter for the Appalachian Trail and provided basic maintenance for the structure. “TEHCC supports the closure in the interest of public safety,” said Vic Hassler, TEHCC A.T. Committee Chair.   The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) added its support for the A.T. trail shelter closure. “We want all AT hikers to have a safe, enjoyable experience,” said Morgan Sommerville, ATC Southern Regional Director. “With the Stan Murray Shelter just two miles to the south, there is another good shelter option nearby.”  

The fields around the shelter are still open for tent camping and offer beautiful views of the Roaring Creek valley. “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.

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