KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A two-year trail rehabilitation project will begin on Ramsey Cascades Trail on April 6 as part of the Trails Forever program.

On April 6 and April 7, the trail, Ramsey Prong Road and the Cosby area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closed to allow helicopter delivery of project supplies and materials. Those with backcountry permits will be allowed access to the closed area, however, the National Park Service said they should expect short delays when the helicopter is overhead.

The helicopter will deliver 35 loads to five different drop-off sites along the Ramsey Cascades Trail. The loads include bundles of locust logs, tools, and necessary equipment for the project. The two-day operation is dependent on weather and will be managed by Cherokee National Forest and park personnel.

Starting May 2 through Nov. 17, 2022, the trail and Ramsey Prong Road will be closed Monday through Thursday, excluding federal holidays, to safely conduct the rehabilitation work. The trail will be fully open Friday through Sunday each week. During the weekday closures, there will also not be any access to Ramsey Cascades as the trail provides the only access to the 100-foot cascades.

Crews will be repairing and re-grading the tread surface, improving existing drainage, adding new drainage, covering up social trails, and removing tripping hazards such as roots and rocks. In addition, trail structures such as retaining walls, staircases, water bars, and turnpikes will be constructed, as needed, using locust logs and native stone found on site. The park service hopes the rehabilitation will improve overall trail safety and protect the park’s natural resources.

The Trails Forever partnership program was established between the Friends of the Smokies and the park to fund a permanent, highly skilled trail crew that focuses on rehabilitating high-use trails. In 2012, an endowment, now worth more than $6 million, was created to support the program. The program has been used to rehabilitate Abrams Falls, Trillium Gap, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Forney Ridge trails.