Great Smoky Mountains National Park seeks public input on bike trail

Currently, most of the park's trails are in areas managed as wilderness where bikes are not permitted.

Currently, most of the park's trails are in areas managed as wilderness where bikes are not permitted.

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking public input on a proposed mountain bike trail system. The trail system would be installed on the unfinished section of the Foothills Parkway corridor in Wears Valley, Tenn.

The proposed project would create recreational access and opportunities that are otherwise limited. 

Currently, most of the park’s trails are in areas managed as wilderness where bikes are not permitted. The Foothills Parkway corridor, which is within the park’s transportation management zone and is not managed as wilderness, could provide visitors new opportunities to experience the park through mountain biking.

The park is initiating an environmental assessment and 30-day public scoping period in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act.

As part of the scoping process, park staff are requesting public input on the proposed action, preliminary alternatives, and issues for consideration in the environmental assessment.

The park will host virtual public meetings at 5 pm on Tuesday, July 28 and Thursday, July 30. Park staff will present an overview of the proposal from 5 pm – 5:30 pm.

A question and answer session will follow until 7 pm.

Provide your comments online or by mail

The public is invited to provide comments through August 19, 2020 online or by mail.

To provide comment online, visit Mailed comments should be addressed to Transportation and Recreation Planning Projects, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. 

How to attend the virtual meeting

Virtual meetings will be held over Zoom. 

To attend the meeting on July 28 from 5 pm to 7 pm, please use this link. If you would like to call in on listen only mode and not view the presentation, please call (312) 626- 6799 and enter passcode 92424167876#.

To attend the meeting on July 30 from 5 pm to 7 pm., please use this link. If you would like to call in on listen only mode and not view the presentation, please call: (312) 626- 6799 and enter passcode 98627136296#. 

Be sure to join the meeting 5-10 minutes early to test your connection. 

Zoom Instructions

  • Click “Download Zoom Application” OR Click “Join from your browser”
  • Click Open/Launch Zoom
  • If prompted, enter Passcode: GRSM
  • Enter your name and email address (this will be kept private and not shared)
  •  Optional: Click “test audio” to ensure you can hear the speakers.

To ask questions, there is a “Q&A” box located at the bottom of the Zoom screen. Enter question and click send. Questions will go directly to park staff (only). To enter questions anonymously, check “enter questions anonymously.” After the presentation, park staff will read and answer questions for the audience. The meeting will conclude after all questions have been addressed.

Phone only instructions

  • Dial either of these toll-free numbers: (312) 626 6799 or (929) 205 6099
  • On July 28, enter Webinar ID: 924 2416 7876, Passcode: 514752
  • On July 30, enter Webinar ID: 986 2713 6296 Passcode: 285050
  • Please note that questions can only be submitted through the Zoom platform. Phone participants will attend the meeting in listen-only mode.

For additional information on the proposed mountain bike trail system, the virtual meetings, and how to provide comments please visit:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park continues phased reopening

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is increasing recreational access and services. They are doing so through a phased approach that aligns with local, state, and national opening plans.

Therefore, park managers have implemented an Adaptive Operations Plan with five operational phases. The park’s plan is designed to be adaptive to regional conditions by increasing or decreasing the scope of park operations as appropriate. Each operational phase will include a two-week assessment period before moving on to the next phase.

Roads currently open include:

  • Abrams Creek Campground Road
  • Balsam Mountain Road
  • Big Creek Road
  • Cades Cove Loop Road (Road will open daily at 8 am. Closed to motor vehicles on Wednesdays from June 17 to September 30, 2020 for bicylces and pedestrians only.)
  • Cataloochee Road (To Palmer Chapel only due to road washout.)
  • Cherokee Orchard Road
  • Clingmans Dome Road
  • Cosby Road
  • Deep Creek Road
  • Elkmont Road
  • Foothills Parkway
  • Forge Creek Road
  • Gatlinburg Bypass
  • Greenbrier Road (Due to roadwork, open to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only.)
  • Heintooga Round Bottom Road
  • Highway 284
  • Lakeview Drive
  • Laurel Creek Road
  • Little River Road
  • Newfound Gap Road/Highway 441
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Straight Fork Road
  • Tom Branch Road
  • Tow String Road
  • Tremont Road
  • Twentymile Road
  • Upper Tremont Road
  • Wear Cove Gap Road

Restrooms currently open include:

  • Clingmans Dome
  • Newfound Gap
  • Cable Mill restrooms in Cades Cove
  • Restrooms near Oconaluftee Visitor Center
  • Restrooms near Sugarlands Visitor Center
  • Abram Falls, Alum Cave, and Rainbow Falls Trailheads
  • Restrooms at open picnic areas

Picnic areas currently open include:

  • Big Creek
  • Cades Cove
  • Chimney Tops
  • Collins Creek and Pavilion
  • Cosby and Pavilion
  • Deep Creek and Pavilion
  • Greeenbrier (Pavilion remans closed due to road damage.)
  • Metcalf Bottoms and Pavilion
  • Twin Creeks Pavilion

**Note that pavilions must be reserved through

Visitor Centers currently open include: 

  • Cable Mill in Cades Cove
  • Clingmans Dome
  • Mingus Mill near Oconaluftee
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center

Campgrounds currently open include:

  • Cades Cove
  • Deep Creek (Opens June 22, 2020)
  • Elkmont (Opens June 15, 2020)
  • Smokemont

Horse camps currently open include:

  • Anthony Creek Horse Camp

Concessions operations currently open include:

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

Smoky Mountain Riding Stables will remain closed.

The following campgrounds will also remain closed at this time: Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Smokemont, Round Bottom, and Tow String.

Little Greenbrier Road remains closed for motorists, but is open for pedestrians and cyclists. 

All trails are open, however, Trillium Gap Trail will be closed from Grotto Falls to the summit of Mt. Le Conte on Mondays through Thursdays until November 12, 2020 for Trails Forever Rehabilitation work. Hikers may still walk from the trailhead to Grotto Falls.

All trails and backcountry campsites & shelters have re-opened. 

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 for questions or comments.


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