As mentioned in a posting last week, the Great Smoky Mountains will be temporarily closing the Cades Cove Loop Road and the north portion of the Alum Cave Trail parking area later this week in order to install new precast concrete public restrooms (vault toilets). The park has provided a few more details on the two projects in a press release today:
The Cades Cove Loop Road will close on Thursday, June 16, until 12 p.m. to accommodate the transport and installation of a vault toilet at the Abrams Falls Trailhead.
The road closure is necessary so that the tractor trailer carrying the vault toilets can enter Cades Cove via the exit side of the one-way loop road in order to avoid driving over the Abrams Creek bridge. The load capacity of the tractor trailer exceeds the design of the Abrams Creek bridge.
In addition, the north portion of the Alum Cave Trail parking area along Newfound Gap Road also will be closed starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 16 – 8 p.m., Friday, June 17, to install a vault toilet at that popular location. Overnight backpackers who wish to hike the Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte on Thursday for an overnight stay must park their vehicles in the adjacent parking area. The north parking lot will be the staging area for the large equipment that will be used to install the vault toilet near the trailhead.
“The placement of these ADA-compliant vault toilet systems will satisfy visitor needs as well as to help to reduce the sanitary issues associated with the heavy use that these areas receive,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.