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Fire restrictions on Appalachian Trail lifted; ban remains in Smokies

Fire damage on the Appalachian Trail near Hot Springs, N.C. (Photo credit: Appalachian Trail Conservancy)

The National Park Service and Appalachian Trail Conservancy on Wednesday lifted fire restrictions on 27.7 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Virginia, from Newport Road (Va. 624) north to Mountain Pass Road (Va. 652). This section of the AT includes the popular viewpoints of McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs.

RELATED | All but 2 WNC wildfires contained

Although fire hazard conditions have become less severe because of recent rainfall, campers should only have fires in established fire rings at designated campsites.

This announcement follows the lifting of the fire ban throughout Shenandoah National Park on Dec. 5 and George Washington and Jefferson, Chattahoochee, Nantahala and Pisgah national forests on Dec. 6. Before lifting these bans, restrictions were in place continuously from the northern boundary of SNP 965.5 miles south to the southern terminus of the Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia, since the middle of November.

Fire restrictions remain in place along the AT in Grayson Highlands State Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and in the Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. These restrictions will remain in effect until sufficient precipitation occurs in these areas.

RELATED |Tennessee fire survivor questions why evacuations weren't called sooner

Some 28.6 miles of the AT are closed to visitors — from Dicks Creek Gap/U.S. 76 in Georgia (mile 69.9) to Mooney Gap USFS 83 (mile 98.5) in North Carolina — because of wildfires in the area.

The AT north from Mooney Gap to the Nantahala River (U.S. 19/U.S. 74, mile 137.1) was reopened Dec. 6 after being closed for several weeks because of wildfires. Hikers are asked to be very cautious of hazard trees and other potential dangers within the burned areas.

For up-to-date information on AT closures and conditions, visit appalachiantrail.org/updates.

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