Great Smoky Mountains officials published a press release late yesterday reporting that a survey by trail workers shows that, as a result of last weeks' tornado, a total of over 4,500 trees are down in the closed sections of the park, with some areas resembling jackstraws for over a mile at a time.
Trail workers also counted over a thousand areas where trees were blown down and their roots tore gaps in the trail.
At this time, the full and partial closures of seven trails on the west end of the Smokies total roughly 27 miles.
The popular Abrams Falls Trail remains impassable due to numerous blow downs and over 40 areas where root balls were ripped out of the trail surface, leaving hot-tub sized craters. Park managers hope to have Abrams Falls Trail reopened by Memorial Day.
Below is a map of the affected trails. Please click for a larger view:
Park managers stress that no park roads are affected by the storm damage, and that the remainder of the park’s 800 miles of trails remain open. In the Cades Cove area visitors are encouraged to seek alternative trails. Access to Gregory Bald via Parson Branch Road is unaffected. Visitors can stop at any park visitor center for advice.
You may also want to note that the camping area and lower picnic area at the Horse Creek Recreation Area in the Cherokee National Forest are closed until further notice. The area received extensive tornado damage as well. Visitors are welcome to camp at Paint Creek or Rock Creek Recreation Areas.