Foothills Parkway Missing Link Open for Weekend

Friday, October 10, 2008

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in cooperation with volunteers of the Blount County Experience Your Smokies and the Blount County Sheriff's Office, will temporarily open to traffic the unfinished section of the Foothills Parkway in Blount County from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 18-19.

Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said, "People will be able to enjoy spectacular scenery along this 9.5 mile portion of the Foothills Parkway, part of a 72 mile right-of-way concept that parallels the northern boundary of the national park. We are pleased to open this scenic roadway again this autumn, providing an alternate drive for observing leaf color displays. Last spring when we opened it for public viewing, 8,000 people came to drive the route and thoroughly enjoyed the vistas."

"Unlike the spring Open House when we encouraged visitors to park at the end of the road to check out the views from the end, this opening period will be primarily a 'windshield tour'," Ditmanson said. "Parking at the end of the road is so limited that trying to accommodate parking with even heavier fall visitation would create gridlock, so motorists will be turned around at the end without stopping," he continued.

The segment that is being opened has a gravel surface with no guardrails, striping or signs and dead- ends at the "Missing Link." The "Missing Link" is a 1.5 mile stretch of extremely rugged terrain which is situated almost in the middle of two partially- completed portions of Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley.

Motorists will enter the area via the Foothills Parkway interchange off U.S. 321 between Maryville and Townsend (about 11 miles south of Maryville). Hikers and bicyclists will also have access to the area, but horseback riders are prohibited during this period when motorists are traveling the road.

Currently, only two discontinuous segments of the Parkway are completed and open: 16.9 miles from Walland to Chilhowee Lake in Blount County and a 5.6 mile portion from Cosby to I-40 in Cocke County.

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