Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens Popular Trails

Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you hike Sugarland Mountain you will be looking down on the iconic Chimneys of the Smokies!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens Popular Trails! Bullhead Trail and Sugarland Mountain Trail are set to reopen after extensive fire damage in 2016. The trails will reopen Friday October 26, 2018. These are two of our favorite trails at HeySmokies.com. They offer amazing high altitude vistas with the Smokies hallmark forest diversity. Both trails are fantastic walks for viewing fall color.

These trails have been closed since November 2016 due to damage resulting from the wind event and fire damage associated with the Chimney Tops 2 Fire. Park trail crews spent several weeks this year repairing over 500 feet of trail tread, cutting 758 downed trees, removing over 20 large rootballs and boulders, and repairing and replacing 53 trail drainage structures.

The trail crews accomplished an amazing amount of work to safely repair and reopen these trails under very challenging conditions,” said
Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are excited to offer this opportunity to hikers, but also want to remind them to stay alert for trail hazards as they pass through the burned areas.”
Great Smoky Mountain Superintendent, Cassius Cash, is always happy to meet park visitors.

Great Smoky Mountain Superintendent, Cassius Cash, is always happy to meet park visitors.

Bullhead Trail begins on the Cherokee Motor Nature Trail near Gatlinburg at the intersection with Rainbow Falls Trail. The trail climbs 3,500′ steadily for 5.9 miles towards the historic LeConte Lodge on the summit of Mt. LeConte. Spring wildflowers are prolific on this hike as well as fantastic winter views. If you have never visited Mount LeConte we urge you to add it to your bucket list.

Sugarland Mountain Trail begins on the Appalachian Trail near the road to the Clingmans Dome  and ends in the Laurel Falls parking lot on Little River road west of Sugarlands Visitor Center. This 11.9 mile hike has many ups and downs and generally drops close to 4,000′ so plan on doing some climbing even if you hike high to low. The fall color and winter views are two great reasons to put this hike on your list but remember it is a great walk any time of year!

These trails pass through areas in the park which burned at a high intensity, including some sections where the entire tree canopy was lost. Hikers should remain alert for hazards such as loose rocks and falling trees or limbs and should avoid hiking these trails during and after high wind or rain events. At all times, hikers should avoid lingering around standing dead trees.

The Friends of the Smokies provided $195,000 for this rehabilitation. The donation was made possible thanks to the generous support of donors from across the country who responded to help fund park recovery needs following the wildfire.

For more information about hiking safety check out our great blog on hiking essentials or visit the park’s website at NPS.gov.

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