Cherokee Orchard Road has been temporarily closed at the park boundary due to the high winds. This obviously includes Roaring Fork as well. There is no timetable for when these roads or US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) will reopen. Visitors already on trail should use caution en route to and from the lodge. Visitors departing the mountain should be prepared for potential delays if there are downed trees obstructing the roadways that are yet to be cleared. Visitors should contact the NPS if assistance is needed exiting the park.
Well here we are with under four weeks to go in the season, and October is set to go out with a roar. Let’s get right to it…
US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) is closed due to high winds. There’s no timetable for when it will reopen. Visitors still have access to the trails out of Cherokee Orchard at this time.
These next several days are going to bring in varying forms of nasty conditions. Our region has now been upgraded to a High Wind Warning that lasts from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM today. Sustained winds of 20-40mph with gusts of 70mph are expected over the mountains. Air movement will remain quite breezy straight through the weekend, although not as strong as what’s expected today. Scattered rain bands will be lashing the Smokies a good bit today with a possiblebreak in the action during the afternoon hours. Temps will remain mild for the most part, and the lodge could reach the 50s for a high. But by tonight, conditions will begin to sour and cool. Friday through Sunday will experience temps in the 30s and 40s and bring a sloppy mix of rain and snow showers. This could add to the list of possible road closures later, especially if trees still with leaves get bogged down by the weight of wet snow causing them to fall. Currently little to no accumulation is expected, but better to be prepared for slick conditions.
All guests need to evaluate their gear and make sure you have everything you need to make a safe and comfortable ascent of the mountain. That means appropriate traction for slick trails, and adequate layers to stay dry and warm, especially since the hike up will take longer without Alum Cave as an option. Make sure you have plenty of snacks and hydration to stay fueled up, and remember those flashlights in case the sun drops and you’re still on trail.
We will continue to provide updates as it relates to changing road and trail conditions. Stay safe out there!