REI grant used to save Chimney Tops trail in the Smokies

Recreational Equipment Inc. donated $5,000 to support the Smokies Trails Forever program and helped fund a crew and 106 volunteers to preserve and protect the iconic Chimney Tops trail.

The Chimney Tops trail, located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, had been slowly deteriorating due to a combination of heavy use, abundant rainfall and steep terrain. It eventually became an eroded obstacle course of slick broken rock, exposed tree roots and mud.

The Trails Forever crew, along with volunteers, reconstructed the trail using sustainable materials to preserve the path and protect the trail corridor. The work was completed in a lasting and aesthetically pleasing manner, improving hiker safety on the way up to the sweeping views from the Chimney Tops.

The Smokies Trails Forever model integrates Park staff with volunteers and private funding support, like REI. Critical trail improvements will continue in 2013. Previously, REI has helped purchase a trailer for tool and equipment storage. They also contributed to Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s celebration of National Public Lands Day this past September.

www.friendsofthesmokies.org or 828.452.0720.

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