Chimney Tops Trail Closure Information
The Chimney Tops Trail will be closed until June 30, 2013 to repair a bridge that was damaged by a flood. After June 30, the trail will be closed on Mondays through Thursdays until mid-October to complete trail improvements. The trail will be open on Fridays through Sundays during this time.
The Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park because of its length and spectacular views. So, why close it? During the trail closure the Trails Forever Crew will be completing highly technical trail reconstruction projects to improve and stabilize the trail. This investment will ultimately protect the resources and enhance the visitor's experience.
The Chimney Tops Trail is 1,400 feet in 2 miles which makes for a steep trail. Add 80 to 100 inches of rain a year in the Smokies to a steep trail and the effect is severe trail erosion. This trail is also excessively wide in sections due to the amount of poeple that hike it each year, and there are sections of trail that are down to exposed bedrock which can be hazardeous to cross and exposed root systems that can be challenging to navigate.
The Chimney Tops trail reconstruction projects will include installing:
While this construction is in progress, the crew will be using rigging equipment to move big rocks, rock drills to break, shape, and build with rock, as well as using other power and hand tools to complete the projects. This work is complex and allowing hikers to pass through these areas while the work is being done would be hazardeous to the visitors as well as the Trails Forever Crew.
A similar Trails Forever reconstruction project has been completed on the Forney Ridge Trail between Clingmans Dome and Andrews Bald. The improvements are dramatic and will be long-lasting! Click here to see before and after photos of the completed work.
The Trails Forever program, a partnership between the park and the Friends of the Smokies, allows a skilled trail crew to focus on necessary trail reconstruction projects throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you are interested in volunteering with the National Park Service trail crew while they work on the Chinmey Tops Trail, please contact the Trails & Facilities Volunteer Coordinator.
During this trail closure, there are many other great hikes to consider throughout the park. You could take a hike along a rushing mountain creek to the 80' high Rainbow Falls, hike through cool and shady high elevation forests to the wide open Andrews Bald, hike through a rock arch on a scenic trail to Alum Cave Bluffs, or hike along the world-famous Appalachian Trail to a picturesque stone outcrop known as Charlies Bunion.
These are just a few of the many trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that are waiting to be explored!
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...