Christine Hoyer from the Trails Forever program recently posted a couple of photos highlighting some of the progress being made on the Chimney Tops Trail. It looks like they are making some major improvements, and I'm really looking forward to hiking up there once the project is completed.
The combination of heavy use, abundant rainfall, and steep terrain had turned the trail into a badly eroded obstacle course of slick, broken rock, exposed tree roots and mud. The hazards that existed on the trail encouraged hikers to pick their way across the uneven surface or to divert them off the edges of the trail, thus causing extensive erosion and resource damage.
The Park's Trails Forever Crew is currently rebuilding the trail using rock and timber. Work includes: constructing rock steps to carry hikers up the steepest areas and to prevent erosion; building elevated "turnpikes" - logs laid parallel and packed with dirt to carry the trail across wetland areas, and creating numerous "waterbars" - logs or stone partially buried diagonally across the trail to divert rainwater off the trail before it can erode the walking surface. Park managers say that the extensive use of durable stone and rot-resistant black locust timbers in the reconstruction will stabilize the trail for decades to come, reducing annual maintenance, and greatly improving the visitor experience.
Through October 18th, the trail is closed each Monday through Thursday while crews give the trail a facelift.
To see all of the photos posted on the Trails Forever website, please click here. For more information on hiking the Chimney Tops Trail, please click here.
Hiking in the Smokies