During the tornado outbreak this past April that swept through the Southeast, a tornado swept through the northeastern portion of the Great Smokies National Park, leaving a trail of destruction across 2,000 acres of the park. Several trails were closed until repairs could be made. The effort to clean up after the storm has been a long one, and some of the closed trails are now beginning to be reopened.
You can keep up with road closures online at the Road Closure page or in real time on Twitter at @SmokiesRoadsNPS. If you are planning a visit to the park, visit the website of the Great Smokies National Park to find more information beyond what I have provided here, including downloadable maps and campsite information.
If you want to go above and beyond in supporting the park, visit Friends of the Smokies to find out how you can help with your time and/or money.
Here are a couple of videos that give a good over view of the situation, followed by a series of press releases that track the recovery effort:
Timeline via Press Releases from the Great Smokies National Park:
April 29, 2011 Trail Closures
Officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the National Weather Service have determined that a severe EF 4 tornado swept across the northwestern corner of the Park last Wednesday causing extensive damage to seven park trails. The popular Abrams Falls Trail remains impassable due to numerous blow downs and over 40 areas where root balls were ripped out of the trail surface leaving hot-tub sized craters. Park managers hope to have Abrams Falls Trail reopened by Memorial Day.
After an inspection of other trails in the affected area, managers have announced the full closure of all or parts of seven trails totaling 27 miles. (5/9/11 update: Additional trails were closed following surveys.) A survey by trail workers shows a total of over 4,500 trees down on the closed sections with some areas resembling jackstraws for over a mile at a time. They also counted over a thousand areas where trees were blown down and their roots tore gaps in the trail. In addition to all of the Abrams Falls Trail, the following facilities are now officially closed to both hikers and equestrians until further notice (5/9/11 updated list below):
- Backcountry Campsites 3, 11, 15
- Abrams Falls Trail
- Ace Gap Trail
- Beard Cane Trail
- Cooper Road Trail from the Beard Cane/Hatcher Mountain Trails junction to the Cades Cove Loop Road
- Hannah Mountain Trail is closed from Rabbit Creek Trail junction to Abrams Falls/Little Bottoms Trails junction.
- Hatcher Mountain Trail
- Little Bottoms Trail is closed from Campsite 17 to Abrams Falls/Hannah Mountain Trails junction
- Rabbit Creek Trail
- Wet Bottom Trail
Source: May 5, 2011 Trail Closures
May 17, 2011 Call for Volunteers to Assist Trail Rehabilitation
May 27, 2011 Part of Abrams trail Reopened