Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Grotto Falls Trail Closed in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Hazardous conditions caused by hillside erosion prompted the national park service to close the Popular Grotto Falls hiking trail in the Roaring Fork area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park near Gatlinburg Tennessee.

The hillside above the trail has been made unstable due to 3 large hemlock trees that fell down a steep slope by the trail. Even though the trees have been removed by the national parks trail crew, rock and mud will continue to slide down causing an unsafe condition for hikers.

The normal freeze and thaw cycle and rain will further loosen the rock and losses vegetation which is expected to fall before the hiking trail is reopened hopefully sometime in the spring of 2007. Since these trees originally kept the hillside reinforced, the National park service has to now let nature take its course.

Grotto Falls Trail Closed in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The actual slide area pictured above (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service) closure takes place approximately 1/4 mile from the trailhead which is located right next to the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. The closure affects a 1.3 mile section of the Trillium Gap Trail between the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and the Grotto Falls.

Hikers who come from Cherokee Orchard Road will still be able to trek for a little less than 2-1/2 miles before they reach the closure which will keep hikers form reaching Mt. LeConte from the Trillium Gap Trail. Hikers have a choice of 4 other trails such as Alum Cave that will take them to the summit of Mount Le Conte.

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