Officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have determined that the extensive damage done to trails in late April were caused by a tornado.
I thought some readers would find the recap of the damage interesting. This new release was posted today.
The park’s staff and National Weather Service have determined that a severe EF 4 tornado swept across the northwestern corner of the park on April 27th, causing extensive damage to 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. The park hopes to reopen the trail by Memorial Day.
After an inspection of other trails in the affected area, the park has announced the full closure of all or parts of seven trails totaling 27 miles. A survey by trail workers shows a total of more than 4,500 trees down on the closed sections, with stretches as long as a mile covered with tree trunks piled up like jackstraws. Over a thousand spots have been identified where trees were blown down and their roots tore gaps in the trail. In addition to all of the Abrams Falls Trail, the following trails are now officially closed to both hikers and equestrians until further notice:
- Rabbit Creek Trail from its trailhead at Abrams Creek Ranger Station to the Hannah Mountain Trail junction (campsite 16 remains open)
- Hannah Mountain Trail from Rabbit Creek Trail to Abrams Creek
- All of Hatcher Mountain Trail
- All of Beard Cane Trail (backcountry campsites 3 and 11 are also closed)
- All of Ace Gap Trail
- Little Bottoms Trail from campsite 17 to the Hatcher Mountain Trail junction (campsite 17 is open)
- Rabbit Creek Trail between its trailhead at Cades Cove and the junction with Hannah Mountain Trail (campsite 15 is closed)
No park roads have been affected by the storm damage and the remainder of the park’s 800 miles of trails remain open. Visitors can stop at any park visitor center for advice or check the park’s website (below) for more information.