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Black Bear in the Great Smoky Mountains

This weekend, we joined about seventy university General Biology students for a hike in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Sunny skies and warm temperatures combined with the living green of young leaves and plants, made for a spectacular and beautiful day. Wildflowers were the focus of the hikes. We were told that on Friday, the day before we arrived, forty-two species had been observed.

On Saturday, students, faculty and tag-alongs boarded buses or vans and headed in different directions to their hiking destinations. Our group headed for Rainbow Falls trail, a 5.6 mile hike, roundtrip.


When we artived and I discovered that LaConte Creek ran alongside the trail, I was quite happy. I can enjoy any hiking trail, but there’s something especially nice about having the roaring of water serenade you as you hike along. And too, on a hot day, it’s refreshing to dip the toes into cold mountain water anytime you want.

We had only gone a short distance up the trail when we began hearing talk of there being a bear somewhere ahead.

“Thirty feet up in the tree and sleeping on a limb. I saw some bees buzzing around the top of the tree so I think the bear robbed the bees, got a tummy full of honey and is now sleeping it off,” said our bus driver as he passed by us.

We continued onward, checking out spiders, identifying flowers and simply enjoying the beauty of nature.

We spotted a group of people congregating at the edge of the trail and off the trail, looking up at a specific point and we knew we’d found where the bear was. We ambled off the main trail , found a spot some distance from the tree she was in and began snapping pictures. At first, she was laying on the limb, but she soon stirred and stood up on all fours.

Black bear

More and more people gathered. She looked around at the people and especially paid close attention to a couple of young boys who were standing closer to the tree than anyone else. I was feeling a bit anxious, hoping she wouldn’t get stressed. Eventually, she stopped gazing at the people and turned her attention to the hollow at the top of the tree. Occasionally, she let out a few low grunting noises. She then stuck her front half into the hollowed out top, making me wonder if maybe the bus driver was right after all, until she crawled completely into the treetop cavern and disappeared. We then decided that maybe she had cubs hidden way up high out of sight of curious onlookers, like ourselves.

This was the closest I had ever been to a bear in the wild and what a treat it was! But imagine my surprise when, on the return trip, we found that she was mo longer in the tree, but on the ground not far from the trail edge!

A little too close for comfort!

Thankfully, nothing has popped up in the news about anyone being mauled by a bear. One woman dared to step off the trail to take pictures. I snapped a couple of pictures, but kept walking. There was no way I wanted to take any chances with this beatiful, but powerful creature!

Ironically, we noticed on the bus ride back , that the banks alongside the roadway had more wildflower diversity than the trail we had been on but; nonetheless, I was content with the excitement we’d had.

If you’ve never been to the Great Smoky Moutains here in Tennesse, you’re missing out on quite a treat! Spring and fall time are especially beautiful; with colorful flowers and green luciousness in the former and colorful leaves in the latter; but, really, anytime is beautiful in the mountains of Tennesse!

And you never know; you just might see a black bear!


Published by sandrah

Hmm...about me. Well, if you were to meet me in person, you would likely say I am quiet, reserved, maybe a tad shy, introspective, aloof, maybe even snobbish. Those who take the time to know me, find that I am someone who loves to talk one-on-on with others, enjoys hearing about people's life journeys, encourages others and easily gets lost in dreams. I am a writer and author with lots of ideas, but little time. I am mom to two awesome teenagers who are my inspiration each and every day, and a crazy rag doll cat named Hobbs. Most importantly, I am a child of God and will be eternally grateful for His working in my life. Thanks for stopping by!

5 thoughts on “Black Bear in the Great Smoky Mountains

  1. Wow! That’s a treat, but a little scary too!
    Love the pink trillium! Wish I could have joined you guys, but, alas, I was bound to my bed, puking and purging, and saw nary a wildflower, despite the gorgeous weather! A Sabbath wasted! Your trip sounds better!

    Liked by 1 person

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