Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced today a one-day closure of the Laurel Falls Trail on Tuesday, April 19th for litter clean-up and graffiti removal. Mangers say that the closure will both improve the experience of hikers and reduce the likelihood of bears being attracted to the litter and food waste along the trail.
The Trail closure will only affect the 1.7-mile paved section from the trailhead on Little River Road to Laurel Falls. Not only will trash will be cleaned up from the Trail itself, but personnel will be rigging ropes to safely remove litter that has been discarded over the side of the Trail. A full closure was deemed necessary to provide for the safety of visitors and the workers.
Employees will also be removing graffiti that has been building up over the years. Graffiti including such things as people’s names and the dates they were in the park can be found on rocks and trail markers along the route. Both littering and defacing Park features with graffiti are illegal and Park visitors are advised to refrain from doing either.
The Laurel Falls Trail is highly used due to its low-moderate difficulty rating, its handicapped accessible features, and its accessibility from a main road. Paper and aluminum litter is not the only form of trash that accumulates and causes problems.
“Sometimes visitors do not think of bio-degradable items like apple cores and orange peels as trash, as they would soda cans or food wrappings.” Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said, “But these items are powerful attractants to bears and other wildlife that can quickly become dependent on these foods sources, causing them to lose their fear of humans and pose a hazard to future visitors to the area.”
The trail is expected to be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be open to all visitors for the remainder of the day once the clean-up is complete.
It's 2011 - can you believe people are still littering in a national park...and leaving graffiti for crying out loud!!
For more information on hiking the Laurel Falls Trail, please click here.