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Bear Canister Loan Program

Bear canisters are the food storage method that provides the most flexibility and surety for camping anywhere along the A.T. – no trees required. To try a bear canister and stay safe during your backpacking trip, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and BearVault have partnered with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (C-ONF), Amicalola Falls State Park and four North Georgia outfitters to create a free program that makes borrowing a bear canister simple.

Black Bears are found throughout Georgia, with prime habitat within the C-ONF.  To limit human interaction with bears the C-ONF requires food, “smellables” and trash to be properly stored. Also, there is a bear canister requirement for five miles of the A.T. between Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap in the Blood Mt. Wilderness from March 1 to June 1 every year. They are also highly recommended throughout the year in Georgia due to bear activity.

BearVault has donated twenty-five: BV500 (700 cubic in.), and twenty-five: BV450 (440 cubic in.) bear resistant food storage canisters for this program.  Availability of either canister will depend upon the number of borrowers.

Here’s what you need to know for the Georgia A.T. bear canister lending program

Pick-up and drop-off points for canisters

Check-out form for borrowing a canister

Check-in form for returning a canister

How to use the bear canister?

How do I unlock the canister?

What should I put into the canister?

How do I fit the canister in my pack?

Where do I store the canister at night?

Avoiding wear & tear

Report a bear incident

Bear safety while hiking & camping

Where can I pick up a bear canister?

Stop at any of the following host locations to get a loan of a BearVault and to return it. Availability of either canister will depend upon the number of borrowers.  Please use the check-out and check-in forms near the bottom of the page to help us manage canister availability.

  • Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center: 418 Amicalola Falls Road, Dawsonville, GA 30534
    • Visitor Center Hours:  M-F 9AM-4PM; Sat. & Sun. 8:30AM to 5PM
    • 706-265-4703
    • No after-hours return of bear canisters
  • Woodlands Edge: 36 N Park St, Dahlonega, GA 30533
    • Hours:  11AM-5PM Sunday & Monday; Wed.–Sat. 10AM-5PM; Closed Tuesday
    • 706-864-5358
    • No after-hours return
  • Mountain Crossings: 12471 Gainesville Hwy, Blairsville, GA 30512 (Neel Gap)
    • Hours:  9AM-5PM Daily
    • 706-745-6095
    • No after-hours return
  • Trailful Outdoor Company: 75 N Main St, Hiawassee, GA  30546
    • Hours:  10AM-6PM Monday through Saturday, 12 -5PM Sunday
    • 706-521-4453
    • No after-hours return
  • Outdoor 76: 104 N Main St, Clayton, GA 30525
    • 10AM-6PM Monday through Saturday, 12 -5PM Sunday
    • 828-347-1465
    • No after-hours return
  • What if I arrive after hours?

    Use the forms below to return the borrowed canister.  No after-hour drop-off is currently available.

    If you do not return the canister to a drop-off location, mail the canister back. A shipping label can be attached directly to the bear can.  Ship to:

    Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center
    418 Amicalola Falls Road, Dawsonville, GA 30534

More information about how they're used can be found at these websites:

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

BearVault Tips & Tricks