Chimney Tops Trail Rehabilitation Continues
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (865) 436-1207
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trails Forever Crew will begin the next phase of the ongoing full trail rehabilitation of Chimney Tops Trail. The trail will be closed each Monday through Thursday beginning Monday, May 5 through Thursday, October 16, while the trail continues to undergo a major facelift.
The combination of heavy use, abundant rainfall, and steep terrain turned the Chimney Tops Trail into a badly eroded obstacle course of slick, broken rock, exposed tree roots, and mud. Since April 2012, The Park’s Trails Forever Crew has been rebuilding the trail using durable stone and rot-resistant black locust timbers that will stabilize the trail for decades to come, reducing annual maintenance and greatly improving the visitor experience.
“We regret the temporary inconvenience to hikers, but the weekday closures are necessary to insure that our crew and visitors are safe while trail construction activities take place,” said Acting Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “The restoration work our team is doing on the trail is amazing and I know these efforts will be appreciated and enjoyed by hikers well into the future.”
The crew has constructed rock steps to carry hikers up the steepest areas and prevent erosion, redefined sections of trail that have become unsafe or difficult to navigate, improved drainage by modifying water bars or constructing other types of drainage structures, and built raised turnpike structures out of sustainable materials to prevent further erosion.
Trails Forever is a partnership program between Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Friends of the Smokies who donated $200,000 this year to support the program, and the generosity of the Knoxville based Aslan Foundation.
With 848 miles of hiking trails, an average of more than 80 inches of rain a year, and significant forest vegetation, trail crews at Great Smoky Mountains National Park focus their efforts primarily on cyclic maintenance to keep the trails open by clearing windfalls, mowing/pruning edges, and improving drainage. The Trails Forever program provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on the high use and high priority trails in the park. The program also provides a mechanism for volunteers to work alongside the trail crew on these complex trail projects to assist in making lasting improvements to preserve the trails for future generations.
For more information on the Trails Forever program, including how to become a volunteer, please visit www.smokiestrailsforever.org.
Did You Know?
An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001. Elk once roamed the Smokies, but were eliminated from the region in the mid 1800s by over-hunting and loss of habitat. Other animals successfully reintroduced to the park include river otters and barn owls. More...