Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Park Roads and Trails Closed Due to Flood Damage

Great Smoky Mountains National Park suffered significant damage to park roads and trails following a flood event two weeks ago, resulting in the temporary closure of sections of gravel roads within several popular areas. Closed areas include Greenbrier Road past the Greenbrier Ranger Station, Cataloochee Road past Palmer Chapel, and Parson's Branch Road.

During the rain event on January 30th, the park received over 4 inches of rain in 24 hours resulting in flooding of streams throughout the park which were already swollen from higher than normal precipitation throughout January. Average rainfall during January across the park averages 5-7 inches of rain, but the park received 14-17 inches of rain this January.

The gravel roads in Greenbrier, Cataloochee, and Parson's Branch were washed out exposing underlying rock and culverts. Park crews are assessing the damage and estimate that repairs will be completed by the end of March. In addition to replacing culverts, roads will need to be graveled and re-graded.

High waters also destroyed the pedestrian bridge across Walker Camp Prong along the popular Chimney Tops Trail. The 70-foot long pedestrian bridge, originally built in the late 1950s, will have to be entirely replaced to allow trail access. Trail crews are assessing bridge replacement options and do not yet have a date estimate for completion.

Currently, the following backcountry areas are closed due to storm damage:

• Chimney Tops Trail
• Deep Creek Trail from campsite #53 to US-441(campsite #53 is open)
• Thomas Divide Trail from the junction of the Sunkota Ridge Trail to US-441
• Kanati Fork Trail
• Kephart Prong Trail (Kephart Prong Shelter is open)
• Beard Cane Trail and campsites #3 and #11
• Hatcher Mountain Trail
• Scott Mountain Trail from campsite #6 to Schoolhouse Gap (campsite #6 is open)

For more information about road closures, please visit the Roads and Facilities Closures page or call the park's Road and Weather Information Line at 865-436-1200.

Hiking in the Smokies

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