GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – The popular Trillium Gap Trail is undergoing a two-year rehabilitation project and access will be closed Monday through Thursday from May 13 to Nov. 15.
The trail will be fully open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and on federal holidays.
Trillium Gap Trail is one of the busiest trails in the park because it provides access to the popular Grotto Falls and the summit of Mount LeConte.
No weekday access to Grotto Falls
There will not be any access to Grotto Falls during the weekday closures. Hikers can still reach Mount LeConte, LeConte Lodge, and the LeConte 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. LeConte.
Significant sections damaged
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, the Park Service said. 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 Partnership
Trails Forever is a partnership program between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Friends of the Smokies. The Friends have donated over $1,5 million 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to register.