Popular Motor Route in Smokies to Keep Backwoods Character

Gatlinburg, Tenn. (AP) -- A yellow sign at the entrance to popular Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park carries a message, "very narrow, crooked, one-way road."

Outdoors enthusiasts don't see that as a warning, but an invitation, even those who want to see the country's most visited national park without leaving their car.

A nearly $10 million improvement project is being planned for a nine-mile scenic route that begins and ends in Gatlinburg. The Woodland Loop links Cherokee Orchard Road, which is open year-round, and the roaring fork trail, which closes in winter.

The 3.7 mile Cherokee Orchard Road carries about 122,000 vehicles a year, while the 5.3 mile Roaring Fork Trail attracts about 83,000 annually. At peak periods, more than 100 vehicles per hour use Cherokee Orchard and 58 per hour use Roaring Fork.

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