Crews rehabilitate Big Creek Trail in the Smokies

The trail work will continue through July 14th.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 1:51 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Trail rehabilitation crews are hard at work on the latest trail that’s needed some attention.

The Big Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains is a 5.6 mile trail in the Cosby area of the park.

“This was originally built as a road in the 1930s. And we’re coming through and trying to mainly improve a lot of the surface drainage along the trail. This is a trail that had needed this attention for a long time because it has had inadequate surface drainage,” said Morgan Hartsock.

What makes this job easier for trail crews, they got permission to use small machinery to help improve the drainage. Crews said this would make maintenance easier for years to come.

“We had to go through a comprehensive compliance process to get permission to use this sort of equipment up here. So there was environmental and cultural compliance done,” said Hartsock.

Visitation continues to increase in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in fact, this particular trail has seen a 30% increase in foot traffic, which is why trail crews say it’s important to keep all trails as safe as possible.

The focus of this project is to rehabilitate surface drainage along the entire 5.6-mile Big...
The focus of this project is to rehabilitate surface drainage along the entire 5.6-mile Big Creek Trail.(Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

“Visitation has gone up but the tread has degraded more and more. So it’s really important that we have the ability to come up here with the assistance of some mechanized equipment, install some drainage that will be more sustainable,” he said. “Last year, visitation went up by another 1.6 million so I don’t know when it stops. I feel like there’s still people discovering the smokies all the time and my crew sees more and more people on this trail every year.”

Crews will spend the next two months on the five miles, not only focusing on tread surface, but removing hazardous trees and logs. That should help prevent sprains and falls.

The trail work will continue through July 14th.

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