Officials are advising people to avoid the Black Balsam area of the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Highway 276 and 215, as crews search for a missing Asheville man.
Haywood County Emergency Management officials report Chad Seger, 27, of Asheville, was last heard from by a family member on Monday, Oct. 12.
According to officials, his family reported him missing on Friday, and an investigation began immediately. Seger's vehicle was located at the Black Balsam parking lot.
"We are handing out his picture to everyone that they see," Director of Haywood County Emergency Services Greg Shuping said.
Signs posted along trailheads say the Asheville man suffers from mental illness and may be evasive.
Officials say Seger is familiar with the area and has hiking experience, but they describe the area as one of the most dangerous spots in the Pisgah National Forrest.
"Elevations from 4,000 to 3,000 feet, all the way to above 6,000 feet can be found," Shuping said. "A lot of elevation gain and descending inside those areas, a lot of cliffs and dangerous areas that we are searching to locate Mr. Seger."
Search efforts concluded for Saturday, with plans to resume an expanded search Sunday morning.
Officials say that traffic patterns are likely to be affected all weekend and that access to trails may be impacted as well.
They are asking people to avoid the 25 mile stretch of road between Highway 276 and Highway 215 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
"Folks park along the sides of the roads, and their tires and vehicles are on the roads. They make the passage way for our rescue vehicles narrow, and we are unable to respond quickly," Shuping said.
Authorities say Seger is in good physical health and that he may have some hiking/camping gear with him.
Search teams from multiple Haywood County and nearby agencies spent the day in the area of Black Balsam Knob and Shining Rock Wilderness Area, according to officials. A North Carolina State Trooper helicopter was also engaged in the search.
If you have been hiking anytime this week in the Black Balsam, Sam Knob, Mountains to Sea area of the Pisgah National Forest and have seen Chad Seger or have any information on his whereabouts, contact the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office at 828-452-6600.
Click here for updates on Monday's search and rescue efforts.
Earlier this year, a family of three got lost in the Shining Rock Wilderness area, spending the night in the woods. Crews were able to find the family a day after they had been reported missing, saying it was a happy ending with a cautionary message.
“Always give a plan to your family member about where you intend to go, exactly what trail head you're on and keep your phone charged or don't rely on your phone really," said Allison Richmond, public information officer with Haywood County Emergency Management. "It's not always the best tool in the woods."
The family luckily had a whistle with them which helped search crews find them.
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