Of the 17,904 total acres that burned in last November's devastating wildfires in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 11,410 were park lands within the park's boundary. Those 11,410 acres represent only two percent of 522,076-acre park. (Courtesy of Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism/TNS)
Photo: Handout/TNS
Photo: Handout/TNS

Great Smoky Mountains National Park to reopen

If you’re looking to get out and about soon, there is good news!

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will become one of the country’s first national parks to reopen Saturday. But, it’s important to know that some of its most popular trails will remain off limits.

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Major roadways, most trails and some restroom facilities will be accessible, but it’s unclear when the Laurel Falls, Chimney Tops and Alum Cave trails will reopen, park spokeswoman Dana Soehn says.

She says safety will be stressed as officials seek to follow federal and state guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.“We think that access to the three most heavily used trails just simply wouldn’t be possible with CDC social distancing guidelines,” Soehn said.

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The push to restore access to some of the country’s most treasured spaces comes six weeks after the park abruptly shut its gates after visitors weren’t following social distancing guidelines.Located on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Great Smoky Mountains is the nation’s most visited national park.

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