Friends of the Smokies has received a grant of $14,000 from REI in support of the Trails Forever program. The funds were made possible through REI’s Asheville and Knoxville locations as part of the 2016 REI Local Grant program, and will be used to continue to fund a full-time trail crew to reconstruct and rehabilitate Alum Cave Trail, one of the most impacted trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Alum Cave Trail Restoration Project is in its final phase and work is expected to be completed this November. The trail restoration work will repair historic cable and handrail systems, reduce trail braiding, and improve drainage to prevent further erosion. It will ensure long-term sustainability of the trail and protect trailside natural communities from degradation.
“REI is committed to supporting the places that give back so much to us. Alum Cave Trail, one of the most iconic trails in the park, is one of those places,” said Nolan Wildfire, outreach market coordinator at REI Knoxville. “Supporting the trail and our local national park is just another way that REI understands that a life outside is a life well lived.”
“Alum Cave Trail is one of the most iconic trails in the Smokies,” said GSMNP Trails Supervisor Tobias Miller. “It not only is the most popular route to the summit of Mt. LeConte, its route takes users to many popular scenic destinations along the trail such as Arch Rock, Inspiration Point, and Alum Cave Bluffs to name a few. The Trail will see up to 700 hikers a day during peak season, so the restoration work being done with the support from Friends of the Smokies and REI is imperative to achieve our goal to provide safe access and protection of park resources for the generations of hikers that will come and experience this treasure.”
Alum Cave Trail Restoration Project is part of the Trails Forever partnership program between Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A $5 million Trails Forever endowment helps fund the highly skilled trail crew, provides materials, and supports a volunteer coordinator. Both skilled and non-skilled volunteers are invited to work with the Trails Forever crew every Wednesday through September 13, but must pre-register. For more information or to donate to Trails Forever or other projects in the Smokies, visit friendsofthesmokies.org