Hurry if you want to see Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail this year, as it will soon be closed six months for bridge repairs.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, one of the most popular attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, will be closed to all public use the evening of Oct. 31, 2014 through April 30, 2015 for road construction.
Lexington, Ky. based Bluegrass Contracting Corporation will be replacing the supporting beams and decks of eight bridges along the 5.5 mile motor trail. The company will also perform maintenance on historic stone masonry abutments as needed. According to park officials, the bridges were last rehabbed thirty-five years ago.
You can get to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail by turning from the Parkway in Gatlinburg onto Historic Nature Trail Rd. (light #8) and traveling to the Cherokee Orchard entrance of the national park. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail begins just beyond the Rainbow Falls Trailhead. Along this narrow, winding, one-way loop road, visitors can see rushing mountain streams and old growth forest, and explore historic buildings such as log cabins and gristmills.
“Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail offers a unique experience for park visitors to explore historic cabins and enjoy the scenery along the road,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan in a release. “We realize this work will disappoint some and also inconvenience Trillium Gap Trail hikers. We have made every effort to minimize these impacts by doing most of the work during the winter months when the road is annually closed for the season.”
Trailheads for Trillium Gap, Baskins Creek and Grapeyard Ridge trails will be inaccessible during the road construction. Hikers are prohibited from walking along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to access trailheads, but may use connector trails to access the area.
To access both Trillium Gap and Baskins Creek trails:
Hikers may begin their hike at the Rainbow Falls trailhead on Cherokee Orchard Road by following the connector trail for 0.6 miles to the Baskins Creek trailhead and 2.3 miles to the Trillium Gap trailhead. Baskins Creek Trail hikers may cross the road and walk to Baskins Creek Falls and continue east to the opposite end of Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
To access Grapeyard Ridge Trail:
Hikers on Baskins Creek Trail may not cross the road for thru-access to Grapeyard Ridge Trail due to bridge construction at this intersection. Hikers can enjoy the Grapeyard Ridge Trail by accessing it from the Greenbrier area and hiking west towards Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which allows access to backcountry campsite 32.
For more information about road closures, please visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm or call the park’s Road and Weather Information Line at 865-436-1200.