Popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trails Closed For Repairs

Work to replace the pedestrian bridge across Walker Camp Prong and to repair trail damage caused by a slide along the Noland Creek Trail will require temporary closures of the two trails. NPS photos.

Two popular trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are going to be closed for a while so crews can repair damage caused by flooding this winter.

In North Carolina, crews will repair a slide area along Noland Creek Trail. To make the needed repairs, the trail will be closed to all hiker and horse use from April 22 – May 2 from the trailhead to Backcountry Campsite 64. Campsite 64 will remain open, but Backcountry Campsite 65 will be closed during the project.

In Tennessee, the popular Chimney Tops Trail has been closed since January when high waters destroyed the pedestrian bridge across Walker Camp Prong at the beginning of the trail. Crews are working to replace the 70-foot-long bridge to allow trail access and estimate reopening the trail by June 30.

At that time, the park’s Trails Forever Crew will begin Phase 2 of the ongoing full trail rehabilitation. That work will necessitate closing the trail each Monday through Thursday from Monday, July 1 through Thursday, October 17, while the trail continues to undergo a major facelift.

During the rain event on January 30th, the park received more than 4 inches of rain in 24 hours. That deluge resulted in flooding of streams throughout the park, which were already swollen from higher than normal precipitation throughout January.

Average rainfall during January across the Smokies averages 5-7 inches, but the park received 14-17 inches of rain this January.

Comments

Looking at the photo above I'd say that until the work actually starts, perhaps Noland Creek trail should just be closed to horse riders.

Old timers could show hikers wanting to see the views from the Chimneys how to locate and use the 1/4 mile long manway joining upper Chimney Tops to the Sugarland Mtn trail. The manway is a steep, overgrown scramble but at one time was a popular way to access Chimney Tops. Also, Chimney Tops trail is accessible via Road Prong Trail which connects on the other side of this missing footbridge.

TnHiker - Based on the photo, it looks like it would be very difficult for a crew to get any work done on the Nolan Creek Trail in an efficient and safe manner if they had to pause and move out of the way every time a hiker wanted to pass. Working on a steep slope and confined area such as this requires crew members to devote full attention to the job at hand, and trying to keep one eye on the job and the other out for hikers is just not a good idea.

The length of closure for this project is a short one. Much better to do it as safely and quickly as possible and get it back open.

Jim - Agreed.