Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that a 2-year trail rehabilitation project will begin next week on Trillium Gap Trail. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is necessary for the safety of both the crew and visitors. The trail and associated parking lot along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will be closed May 13 through November 15 on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. The trail will be fully open each week on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and on federal holidays.
Trillium Gap Trail is one of the busiest trails in the park as it provides access to the popular Grotto Falls and the summit of Mt. Le Conte. There will not be any access to Grotto Falls during the weekday closures. Hikers can still reach Mt. Le Conte, LeConte Lodge, and the Le Conte Shelter by using one of the other four trails to the summit including the recently restored Rainbow Falls and Alum Cave Trails.
“We recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Trails Forever partnership with the Friends of the Smokies and I couldn’t be more proud of the amazing work accomplished by our crews, youth interns, and volunteers in transforming trails across the park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “While we hate to disappoint hikers with weekday closures, the results are well worth the inconvenience and allow us the opportunity to continue to protect these special places for generations to come.”
The trail crew will focus rehabilitation efforts on several targeted locations along the entire length of the trail stretching from the Rainbow Falls Trail parking area to the summit of Mt. Le Conte. The work will improve overall trail safety and protect natural resources by improving the tread surface, reducing trail braiding, and improving drainage to prevent further erosion. There are several areas along the trail where erosion and small landslides have damaged significant sections, making the trail difficult to follow. In addition to the work on Trillium Gap Trail, trail crews will perform critical trail work across the park as part of the Trails Forever program including rehabilitation along Deep Creek Trail, Rough Fork Trail, Smokemont Trail, and Noah Bud Ogle Trail.
Trails Forever is a partnership program between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Friends of the Smokies. The Friends have donated over $1,500,000 to support the program, in part through the generosity of the Knoxville based Aslan Foundation. The Trails Forever program provides the opportunity for highly skilled trail crew members to focus reconstruction efforts on high use and high priority trails in the park including Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Forney Ridge trails. The program also provides a mechanism for volunteers and interns to work alongside the trail crew on these complex trail projects to assist in making lasting improvements to preserve the trails for future generations.
Volunteer work days for the Trails Forever program are held every Wednesday, May through August. Prior registration is required. Please contact Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator Adam Monroe at 828-497-1949 or [email protected] for more details and to register.