Thursday, April 5, 2012

Water Safety in The Great Smoky Mountains

Water recreation is not recommended in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to numerous hazards and dangers. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the park. Innumerable injuries have resulted from people swimming and riding inner tubes in park waters.

Serious water-related injuries occur every year in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These injuries can easily be avoided. Medical assistance for injured persons may be many hours away. Closely supervise children at all times. There are no life-guarded swimming areas in the park.

River levels can rise rapidly after a heavy rainfall. A localized thunderstorm dumping rain far upstream on the park's highest peaks can create sudden and unexpected flood conditions at lower elevations. You may not even have felt a raindrop!

As river levels rise and water velocity increases, the risk of serious injury or drowning becomes greater. Do not wade in or attempt to cross a rain-swollen stream! Hikers must use good judgment when deciding to cross streams. It is better to turn back or wait for flooding streams to recede than risk your life in cold, swift waters.

  Do not climb on rocks near waterfalls.

Use extreme caution when walking along riverbanks.
Over the years, several people have fallen to their deaths and many others have suffered serious injuries from climbing on rocks near waterfalls or along the riverbanks. These rocks are slippery due to mist and algae.

  Do not dive or jump into the water.
Submerged rocks, trees or debris could be immediately below the surface of the water. .

  If you find yourself accidentally swimming in fast moving water, do not try to stand up.
Most drownings result from getting a leg or ankle caught in an underwater rock ledge or between boulders. The force of the water will push you over and hold you under.
  The standard defensive swimming position in fast water is lying on your back with your feet pointing downstream and toes up towards the surface.
Always look downstream and be prepared to fend off rocks with your feet.


Exposure to cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia, an extremely dangerous condition involving the lowering of the body's "core" temperature. Hypothermia can kill you! Symptoms include loss of strength and muscular coordination followed by mental confusion and irrational behavior. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

GSMNP Backcountry Campsites And Trail Closings

Backcountry Areas Closed

• Backcountry Campsites 3, 11 closed due to tornado damage

• Beard Cane Trail closed due to tornado damage

• Hatcher Mountain Trail North of its intersection with Little Bottoms Trail closed due to tornado damage

• Gunter Fork Trail closed due to landslides

• Chimney Tops Trail is scheduled to be closed on Mondays through Thursdays, April 30 - October 18, 2012 for trail rehabilitation.

For current backcountry trail and campsite information call (865) 436-1297 or (865) 436-1231. Please note these numbers are for backcountry trail and campsite information only.

GSMNP Trail Cautions And Conditions

Trail Cautions

Please note that the park's backcountry is managed as a natural area where the forces of nature determine trail conditions. The following list includes some conditions that the park is currently aware of. However, hikers may encounter trail conditions not listed below that require caution. Be prepared for swollen streams, bridge washouts, downed trees, and trail erosion when hiking in the park's backcountry.

• Caldwell Fork Trail - several footbridges along the trail are damaged. Hikers wishing to use the trail will need to ford the creek. The foot bridge located between the trailhead and the second junction with the Boogerman Trail is out and is scheduled for repair in May.

• Smokemont Loop Trail/Bradley Fork Trail - the foot bridge located at the junction of these trails is out and scheduled for repair in May.
• Trails throughout the park, especially those on the western end, have numerous downed trees due to severe wind storms. Please see the list of closed trails above. Other trails may have areas that are difficult to negotiate due to downed trees.

• Boat shuttles to and from Hazel Creek when lake levels are low are from the Ollie Cove Trailhead on the Hazel Creek embayment. Ask the shuttle service about this when making a reservation to be dropped or picked up. This is due to a bridge that is out of service on Hazel Creek and adds about 1/2 mile to the hike. Ollie Cove Trail is new - trail signs are in place to direct you from the Hazel Creek Trail and Lakeshore Trail intersection to Ollie Cove Trail that is one mile east on Lakeshore Trail from Hazel Creek.

Plus be very careful over the past few days with all the rain with creek and river crossings and bridge washouts and mossy and wet rocks were you can loose your footing very easy ! So please becareful

Cave and Mine Shaft Closure

Entry into all caves and mine shafts is prohibited due to concerns about the spread of white nose syndrome among bats. more