Park Reopens Trails Damaged in 2011 Tornado
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the reopening of 2 trails that have been closed since 2011 after receiving extensive damage from a F4 Tornado in the western end of the Park.
The Park's Trail Crew recently completed rehabilitation work on Beard Cane and Hatcher Mountain Trails. These trails have been closed since April 2011 due to damaging tornado winds and rain that left the trails blocked by thousands of downed trees. In addition, Park crews had to rebuild the trail tread surface and construct multiple retaining walls where the trail had been completely destroyed after uprooted trees fell downslope with sections of the trail attached.
After the 2011 tornado, 50 miles of trails were initially closed including Ace Gap Trail, Beard Cane Trail, Hatcher Mountain Trail, Little Bottoms Trail, Rabbit Creek Trail, Hannah Mountain Trail, Cooper Road Trail, Cane Creek Trail, Gold Mine Trail, and Abrams Falls Trail. Twenty-four trail crew employees from across the Park responded to the incident in addition to trail crews from Canyonlands National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Kings Canyon National Park. Due to the scope of the workload, coupled with the responsibility to maintain the other 800 miles of trails in the Park, Smokies Trail Crew Supervisor, Tobias Miller, reached out to fellow NPS trail crews from across the country to aid in tree clearing efforts and trail reconstruction.
"This was some of the most challenging work I have ever faced. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such hardworking professionals and the best trail crew in the NPS," said Smokies Trail Crew Supervisor Tobias Miller. "It was clear from the first day after I crawled through only three of the damaged trails that we were in for some serious challenges to reopen these trails."
All trails are now reopened for public use along with Backcountry Campsite 3. However, Backcountry Campsite 11 will remain closed. The damage to this site was so great from the storm that this location is no longer suitable as a campsite.
For more information about trail conditions, please visit the Park's website at www.nps.gov/grsm or call our Backcountry Information Office at 865-436-1297.