Park Celebrates Alum Cave Trail ReopeningPosted by | 11.18.2016
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials celebrated the completion of a two-year trail rehabilitation project on Alum Cave Trail Thursday, Nov. 17.
Alum Cave Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park, leading hikers to iconic areas including Arch Rock, Inspiration Point, Alum Cave Bluffs, Mt. Le Conte, and Le Conte Lodge The trail was reopened following work completed by the park Trails Forever crew, American Conservation Experience youth crews, and volunteers.
The Trails Forever crew rehabilitated targeted locations along the five-mile trail to improve visitor safety and stabilize eroding trail sections. Park rangers respond to numerous accidents along the trail each year, especially along the upper, narrow corridors. The much-needed rehabilitation improved overall trail safety, while also protecting natural resources by repairing historic cable and handrail systems, reinforcing hanging trail sections, reducing trail braiding, and improving drainage to prevent further erosion.
Before the rehabilitation, the trail had several narrow areas where erosion and small landslides had damaged significant sections of the trail, making it difficult to safely travel through the areas during inclement weather or to pass hikers coming from the opposite direction. The crews were able to restore these fragile trail sections allowing long-term sustainability that protects trailside natural communities from degradation.
By building an attractive, durable trail surface to hike upon, the crew successfully narrowed the trail corridor impact zone. This is the first major rehabilitation of this trail since its original construction. Through the thoughtful rehabilitation techniques using natural materials, the historic nature of the trail has been preserved allowing future visitors opportunities to enjoy the unique trail for years to come.