• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Forney Ridge Trail Project Overview

Before and after of rock staircase
Before and after of rock staircase.
Using rigging equipment to move rock

Using rigging equipment to move large rocks.

The Forney Ridge Trail, between Clingmans Dome and Andrews Bald, is a popular trail in Great Smoky Mountains high country. The trail was in need of significant reconstruction work to create a sustainable path that would provide a safe trail for park visitors. Over time, the trail sustained major trail erosion and the resources surrounding the trail were being impacted as visitors attempted to find a way around puddles and deep trenches.

Before and after of rock turnpike
Before and after of rock turnpike.
Crew moves large rock for staircase

Trail Crew moves large rock for staircase.

The 1.8 miles of the Forney Ridge Trail out to Andrews Bald was the Trails Forever trail reconstruction project from 2008-2011. Trails Forever Trail Crews worked to reconstruct the trail by installing drainage structures, constructing staircases out of locust wood and native rock, as well as a few elevated turnpikes and even a plank walkway or two.

Before and after of locust turnpike
Before and after of locust turnpike.
Crew uses rockbars to move rock

Using rockbars to move large rock.

The trail is now much improved and the work is enjoyed by all those who hike the trail! Click here for more detailed information about hiking out to Andrews Bald.

Before and after of log structures in trenched area
Before and after of log structure in trenched area.

Did You Know?

Flame azalea can be found growing on heath balds in the park.

The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...