Ramsey Cascades Trail to get a makeover
A two-year trail rehabilitation project will soon start on Ramsey Cascades Trail, one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s most popular paths. Located in the Greenbrier area, the 4-mile trail provides the only access to the park’s tallest waterfall, 100-foot Ramsey Cascades.
From May 2 through Nov. 17, the trail as well as Ramsey Prong Road will be closed Monday through Thursday, excluding federal holidays, to allow crews funded through the Trails Forever program to safely rehabilitate it. The trail will be fully open Friday through Sunday each week.
The project aims to improve overall trail safety and the park’s natural resources. Crews will repair and regrade the tread surface, improve existing drainage, add new drainage, cover up social trails and remove tripping hazards such as roots and rocks. They’ll also build retaining walls, staircases, water bars and turnpikes using locust logs and native stone found onsite.
Last week, a helicopter operation delivered 35 loads of supplies to five different drop-off sites along the trail from a staging area near the Cosby Picnic Area. The loads include bundles of locust logs, tools and equipment.
The project is possible through Trails Forever, a partnership program of Friends of the Smokies and the park. In 2012, Friends established an endowment, now worth more than $6 million, to fund a permanent, highly skilled crew to rehabilitate high-use trails. So far, the program has contributed more than $2 million to fully rehabilitate Abrams Falls, Trillium Gap, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Forney Ridge trails.
The project will also include volunteers and Conservation Corps Crew interns working alongside the paid trail crews. Volunteer workdays will be held weekly, May through November, with prior registration required.