Friday, April 25, 2008

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Junior Ranger Day

Saturday April 26th marks the 2nd annual Junior Ranger day special activities for kids to be held in all 3 Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor centers from 11 am to 2 pm.

Children and their parents can join in fun filled and education activities such as searching for wildflowers and salamanders, toy making, weaving, even making dinner bells at a blacksmith shop.

According to Great Smoky Mountains national park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson "National Junior Ranger Day provides a great opportunity for children and families to spend time together learning about the Park that offers an array of educational experiences and recreational opportunities right in their own backyard." He went on to say "We hope that our local residents will take advantage of this program to interact with our staff and the resources, and, at the same time, plan a day doing activities in the Park."

The visitor centers in the Great Smoky Mountains national park where the junior ranger programs are taking place are:

Special age appropriate Junior Ranger booklets which were produced in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association can be purchased for $2.50 each at park visitor centers and are available for ages 5- 6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.

Cades Cove partially closed to cars, Hikers and Bikers

The tremendously popular Cades Cove 11 mile loop in the Great Smoky Mountains national park will be partially closed from April 28th until May 1st until 10:00 am each day to drives, Cades Cove bikers and hikers while construction will take place.

The national park service will be undertaking 3 projects at the same time, repairing the drainage as well as resurfacing the road at the Abrams Creek Trail at the far end of Cades Cove as well as working on the bridge that crosses Abrams Creek.

Both Sparks Lane and Hyatt Lane will also be closed during this construction period and will reopen at around 10:00 am.

This is not yet the project we are all waiting for - a complete repair and resurfacing of the entire Cades Cove 11 mile loop which is badly in need of repair.

This winter we observed surveyors already measuring the Cades Cove 11 mile loop as well as checking drainage areas. I was advised this week that repairs are expected to get underway next year to the entire road surface.

surveyors already measuring the Cades Cove 11 mile loop

Next weeks closures will allow only hikers and bikers to hike and bike back and forth on a 5-mile portion of the road between the Cades Cove Loop Road entrance and the construction site.

Hikers will not be allowed past the bridge or on the south end of the loop road so that they will not hinder large construction vehicles or slow down work due to safety concerns.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

That smoke coming from Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains Park is meant to be!

It looks as though the weather will hold up for today's prescribed burn in the NW corner of Cades Cove in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Because of this controlled burn expecting to encompass 1,800 acres, the national park service is going to close several hiking trails for at least a few days to make sure that after the burn is complete snags (trees and branches hug up in other trees and branches) and hot spots (areas that might reignite again) will no longer endanger hikers.

Smoke from the fire in Cades Cove will affect the Cades Cove Valley as well as being visible from Townsend, US129, Walland and Happy Valley. I personally suggest that today is not the day to take a hike or tour in Cades Cove as I put off my hiking trip to the Cades Cove until this Sunday.

The prescribed burn has been ordered by the national park service to burn down some of the dead brush so that any wildfires which may occur will not be as unmanageable as well as allowing yellow pine trees to flourish which would naturally benefit from wild fires.

The fire will be set by and managed by between 25 to 30 firefighters using drip torches to ignite the dead brush and trees. The boundaries of where the fire is meant to be contained will be along the following hiking trails and creek beds:
Southern boundary: Cooper Road Trail
Western boundary: Beard Cane Trail
Northern and Eastern sides: Hesse Creek/Bark Camp

The following hiking areas and backcountry campsites will be closed until advised:

  • Cooper Road Trail from the junction with Wet Bottom Trail
  • Cooper Road Trail to the junction with Ace Gap Trail
  • Cooper Road Trail to the junction Cane Creek Trail
  • Hatcher Mountain Trail from the junction with Cooper Road Trail to the junction with Little Bottoms Trail
  • Beard Cane Trail from the junction
  • Ace Gap Trail from Beard Cane Trail junction to backcountry campsite 7
  • Backcountry Campsite 3
  • Backcountry Campsite 11

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chimney Rock State Park receives $4.5M for land acquisition.

Thanks to the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation will be able to acquire another 212 acres of land to add to the Chimney Rock State Park.

Chimney Rock state park which is still in development was authorized for creation in 2005 and started with almost 1,000 acres of what was previously a private park purchased by the state of North Carolina for approximately $24 million.

This new land to be added to the park is now privately owned and will include Bottomless Pools near Lake Lure.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Clingmans dome road reopened inteh GSMNP

Clingmans Dome road in the Great Smoky Mountains national park just reopened and visitors to Clingmans dome will be able to see spectacular views with an almost perfect blue sky with some mountain peaks dusted with snow.

Falling temperatures tonight may cause this road to close again.

Clingmans Dome Road in the Great Smoky Mountains nation park is Closed

The road to Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains national park remains closed due to snow and ice.

This road is normally closed during the winter and just opened April 1st.

Newly opened Newfound Gap Road is free of ice but drivers must remain cautious as there is still plenty of slush on the road which may refreeze tonight.

Newfound Gap Road has just reopened in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Snow and ice have Newfound Gap Road (US 441) which runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed from Cherokee North Carolina to Gatlinburg Tennessee to all traffic.

It is possible that this road will close latter today if the roads refreeze.