Park roads, trails suffer ‘significant’ flood damage
From Staff Reports
Great Smoky Mountains National Park suffered “significant” damage to park roads and trails following a flood event last week, resulting in the temporary closure of sections of gravel roads within several popular areas, park officials said.
Closed areas include Greenbrier Road past the Greenbrier Ranger Station, Cataloochee Road past Palmer Chapel and Parson’s Branch Road.
During the rain event on Jan. 30, the park received more than 4 inches of rain in 24 hours. Streams throughout the park which were already swollen from higher-than-normal precipitation throughout January.
Average rainfall during January across the park averages 5-7 inches of rain, but the park received 14-17 inches of rain this January.
The gravel roads in Greenbrier, Cataloochee and Parson’s Branch were washed out, exposing underlying rock and culverts. Park crews are assessing the damage and estimate that repairs will be completed by the end of March. In addition to replacing culverts, roads will need to be graveled and regraded.
High waters also destroyed the pedestrian bridge across Walker Camp Prong along the popular Chimney Tops Trail. The 70-foot long pedestrian bridge, originally built in the late 1950s, will have to be replaced to allow trail access. Trail crews are assessing bridge replacement options and do not yet have a date estimate for completion.
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