A sign welcomes hikers to the Appalachian Trail. // Watchdog photo by Keith Campbell

Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: I read in the obituaries today that a local citizen’s family announced their intent to scatter his cremains along the Appalachian Trail. While the sentiment is admirable, isn’t that illegal? Can people do this in some legal fashion in national parks? P.S. When I too am free from the tethers of life, I wish to be scattered near second base at Yankee Stadium. In powdered form, hopefully.

My answer: As a friendly prank, I’m going to secure this fella’s remains and spread them in Fenway Park. Talk about eternal damnation!

Real answer: The National Park Service has jurisdiction over the Appalachian Trail, so I checked in with Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesperson Emily Davis.

“All that is required to scatter ashes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to be in possession of a letter of permission and follow the guidelines of the letter,” Davis said via email.

This link will take you to the page with scattering information. Most national parks allow it, but some have their own restrictions, so it’s best to check here for a specific park.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park accounts for 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail, including the highest peak along the route, Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 feet, according to the Bryson City-Swain County Chamber of Commerce.

The Smokies website notes that people “may wish to scatter the ashes of a deceased loved one inside the park.

“There are no fees connected with scattering cremains but it is necessary to obtain permission pursuant to (federal regulations),” the website states, noting that the “Letter of Permission” gives that permission. “All that is required is for the person on site scattering the ashes to be in possession of the letter and that they adhere to the guidelines within.”

No additional contact with the park is necessary unless more than 25 people plan to attend.

The park site does recommend the scattering of remains be planned “as a small private affair, held away from high visitor use areas.”

“Spreading ashes should be exercised with discretion as it is generally a very private moment and care should be given not to disturb other park users,” the website states. “We suggest early in the morning as a good time of day for your memorial as the afternoons are usually more crowded and afford less privacy and solitude.”

The National Park Service site for the Appalachian Trail offers no direct guidance on spreading of ashes, so it’s safe to assume NPS rules take precedence. The trail is 2,190 miles long and traverses 14 states.

It does go through some other parks, so it would be wise to check with those individually if you’re planning on a cremains dump outside of North Carolina.

And, because I know someone will ask, the Blue Ridge Parkway website states visitors are allowed to spread ashes “with limitations.” 

“Signage, cairns, and other visible memorial markers are not allowed on Parkway property,” the site states. “A gathering of fewer than 25 people to spread cremated ashes is allowed without a permit with the following restrictions:

  • Spreading of ashes cannot be conducted within 100 feet of any Parkway road, trail, structure, or body of water.
  • Spreading of ashes cannot be conducted at Craggy Gardens or Graveyard Fields at any time.
Hollywood Feed, a pet food and supplies chain based in Tennessee, not California, hopes to open a store in Asheville by Whole Foods in early July. //Watchdog photo by John Boyle

Question: Wondering if you can tell us what is going into the retail space to the left of the Whole Foods across from the Asheville Mall?

My answer: Sometimes my sleuthing involves a high-tech technique I’m a little reluctant to share with the masses: reading the “Coming soon” sign in the storefront.

Real answer: This “Coming soon” sign is kind of hard to read, but upon close inspection it states that Hollywood Feed is coming soon to the space next to Whole Foods.

My first thought was, “What? A store that sells nothing but rice cakes, avocado/spinach smoothies and zero calorie colon cleanses?” ‘Cause that’s what people in Hollywood eat, right?

Not quite.

“Hollywood Feed is excited to be opening our newest location in Asheville in the next few weeks,” the company’s director of marketing, Camille Wingo Christopher, told me via email. “We sell high-quality food, treats and supplies for dogs and cats.”

Ah, so actual meat products, with real calories. 

Christopher said they’re hoping to open around July 1.

“But that depends on staffing, and we’ve had trouble identifying candidates since we’re new to the area,” Christopher said. Once open, they’ll schedule a grand opening party and ribbon cutting, she added.

They’ve joined the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, and you can find job links here

Hollywood Feed has more than 170 stores in 19 states, and Christopher said the company consistently ranks atop consumer choice awards.

“In fact, we were named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Retailers for 2022,” she said.

By the way, that catchy company name comes from Tennessee, not California. Hollywood Feed opened its first pet supply store on the corner of Hollywood Street and Chelsea Avenue in Memphis in the 1950s, according to the company website.

“Over the next few decades, Hollywood Feed was the place to get pet food, good advice, and friendly service,” the website states.

In 2006, Shawn and Jean McGhee, with some other partners, bought three Hollywood Feed stores in Memphis. Clearly, a major expansion ensued.

In addition to the store, Hollywood Feed ships, and they offer grooming and dog washes, as well as a price match guarantee.

Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at  jboyle@avlwatchdog.org or 828-337-0941.

2 replies on “Answer Man: Is it legal to spread cremains in national parks? What’s going next to Whole Foods?”

  1. I’ve often wondered how many folks have been scattered across Augusta National from a small private aircraft flying at night.

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