Monday, October 19, 2009

Seasonal Road Closing Season

If you intend to hike any of the trails along Balsam Mountain Road or Heintooga Ridge Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park before winter arrives, you have only two weeks left before these roads are closed for the season.

Both roads are located in the Southeastern corner of the park between Maggie Valley and Oconaluftee in North Carolina. The two seasonal roads will close on November 1 and won’t reopen again until next May.

Of course the trails along these roads will continue to be open, but you may have problems reaching the trailheads. The following trails will be impacted: Flat Creek Falls, Hemphill Bald, Rough Fork, Palmer Creek, Balsam Mountain, Beech Gap and Hyatt Ridge trails.

Heintooga Ridge Road is accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 458. This two-way road dead-ends into the one-way Balsam Mountain Road.

Balsam Mountain Road is a thrilling ride on a one-way gravel road. Along the way you’ll see sweeping mountain vistas that overlook some of the vast wilderness where many Cherokee Indians retreated in order to avoid removal on the tragic Trail of Tears. The road also passes the highest picnic area in the park, which also affords outstanding views as well.

Five other seasonal roads, Roundbottom, Parson Branch, Rich Mountain, Roaring Fork and Clingmans Dome Road, will be closing throughout the month of November.


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