Great Smoky Mountains National Park phase two begins today, opens popular trails and picnic areas

Eager park goers flock to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on opening weekend. (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park begins phase two of reopening. (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the U.S. which attracted over 12.5 million visitors in 2019, begins phase two of their post-coronavirus reopening plan today, Saturday May 23, adding several trails, roads and picnic areas to the list of areas now accessible to park-goers.

Visitors Centers, however, will remain closed until further notice.

The park originally closed on March 24 amid coronavirus concerns, citing fears of over-crowding and began phase one of the reopening process two weeks ago on Saturday, May 9.

Read More: Great Smoky Mountains National Park phased reopening begins today

According to the NPS, the complete list of open picnic areas, trailheads, roads and facilities are now as follows:

Open Roads

  • Cades Cove Loop Road (open daily at 8am)
  • Cherokee Orchard Road
  • Clingmans Dome Road
  • Cosby Road
  • Deep Creek Road
  • Foothills Parkway
  • Gatlinburg Bypass
  • Greenbrier Road
  • Lakeview Drive
  • Laurel Creek Road
  • Little River Road
  • Newfound Gap Road
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Tom Branch Road
  • Tow String Road
  • Tremont Road
  • Tow String Road
  • Upper Tremont Road
  • Wear Cove Gap Road

Open Restrooms

  • Restrooms at Newfound Gap
  • Restrooms at Clingmans Dome
  • Restrooms at Sugarlands Visitor Center
  • Restrooms at Oconaluftee Visitor Center
  • Restrooms near Cable Mill in Cades Cove
  • Restrooms at Abrams Falls Trailhead
  • Restrooms at Rainbow Falls Trailhead
  • Restrooms at all open picnic areas (see below)

Open Picnic Areas

  • Big Creek
  • Cades Cove
  • Chimney Tops
  • Collins Creek and Pavilion
  • Cosby and Pavilion
  • Deep Creek and Pavilion
  • Metcalf Bottoms and Pavilion

Roads Open to Pedestrians and Cyclists Only

  • Abrams Creek Road
  • Balsam Mountain Road
  • Cataloochee Road
  • Elkmont Road
  • Forge Creek Road
  • Heintooga Round Bottom Road
  • Highway 284
  • Little Greenbrier Road
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Straight Fork Road
  • Twentymile Road

Backcountry Operations:

  • All trails now open*
  • All backcountry campsites & shelters are open with reduced capacity limits.

Concession Operations:

  • LeConte Lodge
  • Sugarlands Riding Stables
  • Cades Cove Riding Stables
  • Cades Cove Riding Stables
  • Cades Cove Campstore
  • Smokemont Riding Stables

Special park use permits remain limited to small groups of up to 20 people, for only one hour at a time. Churches may not be used for special events at this time. The NPS is urging hikers to plan ahead and choose routes with accessible trailheads for parking, and encourages all patrons to practice social distancing within the park as much as possible.

For additional information about these openings and how the NPS is keeping you safe in the Smokies, check out the park’s official website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/

Visit the CDC website and the Tennessee Department of Health website for the latest information about the coronavirus.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.


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