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Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to walk approximately two miles along the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley on Thursday, November 8 for a Community Day celebration.This is a special opportunity for pedestrians to experience the series of bridges that connect the 1.65-mile section known as the ‘Missing Link’ before it opens to motorists and cyclists on Saturday, November 10.
Participants will be shuttled to the site from Townsend, TN between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon, weather permitting. Construction activities may still be occurring along sections of the roadway, necessitating coordinated transportation to the event space. To reach the core area, participants should be prepared to walk at least two miles, round trip, along a 10% grade. At the center of the event space, the park is hosting a variety of interactive educational and artistic activities for the public to enjoy.
“While the parkway is designed as a scenic driving experience, we wanted to provide one special opportunity for people to experience it by foot before it opens to motorists,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We hope the public will join us for this Community Day celebration as we enjoy the beauty of the parkway and the new recreational opportunities it provides for our local residents and visitors.”
Participants will be shuttled from the River Rat parking lot in Townsend, TN (205 Wears Valley Road, Townsend, TN 37882) at approximately 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., or 12:00 noon. The shuttle ride will take approximately one hour to reach the event space. Participants will have the opportunity to spend one to three hours on site depending on which departure time they choose. The Friends of the Smokies are sponsoring the free shuttle service to the public utilizing charter buses. Participation is available on a first come, first serve basis with anticipated service for approximately 1,000 people.
Participants should bring snacks and water in a small pack, wear sturdy footwear, and dress in layers to be prepared for the outdoor event. No large bags, chairs or coolers are allowed. Portable toilets will be provided on site. While on site, participants will be reminded of safety hazards while walking along the roadway, which is designed for motor vehicle traffic. The park will implement safety measures to help ensure that participants remain a safe distance from the guard rails along the bridges.
The event is weather dependent. The park will notify the public by 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7 if the event is canceled due to inclement weather through the park website, social media, and a media release.