It is currently 15 degrees and windy at the lodge, and temperatures could drop more through the evening. There is still a lingering chance of flurries as well before skies are expected to clear after midnight. Even with warmer temps and sunny skies forecast for Monday, it could still be a while before US 441 and Roaring Fork reopen to visitors. Our office hours are 8-5 M-F if you have further questions, and you can also visit the NPS Sugarlands Visitor Center for the latest information regarding roads and trails.
Some images from around camp today...
We have exceeded 2" of snowfall so far. Temperatures continue to hover around 19 degrees. US 441 and, as of this morning, Roaring Fork are both closed. This leaves Cherokee Orchard as the most viable option for those traveling to and from the mountain via Rainbow Falls. The occasional winds are not strong, but enough to annoyingly blow flurries in your face and chill anyone improperly dressed for the conditions.
Hiking in the snow always takes longer because of the effort required to trudge through the varying depths, as well as navigating any hazardous places on the trail like ice. It is critically important to take account for this added time, plus the fact that the sun continues to set earlier with each passing day. Staying hydrated, even though your body may not feel thirsty, is essential.
Conditions will remain quite cold this evening, with skies slated to clear much later. Monday should be warmer with sunnier skies. Expect trails to change from icy to slushy rapidly once this snow begins to melt off of this rock.
Safe travels to all.
As promised, our first snowfall of autumn has finally arrived. The first flakes starting to fly and quickly stick to the ground at 5:15 AM this morning. It wasn't until after midnight until temperatures eventually dropped below freezing, and plummet they did. Currently it is 18 degrees at the lodge, and current snow accumulation is less than an inch with light flakes still coming down. Log water bars and places where yesterday's rainfall would have pooled and frozen present the greatest trail hazards. Traction devices are smart to have with you until things melt away. Saturday's high temp came in at 41 degrees, and total rainfall concluded at 1.2" before transitioning over to snow.
US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) remains closed through the park. Cherokee Orchard and Roaring Fork are still accessible, so overnight guests and dayhikers have the option of utilizing Rainbow Falls and Trillium Gap Trails, both 6.7 miles, for the time being.
We'll keep you posted of conditions throughout the day. Be safe out there and enjoy the wintry magic of the mountain! And a big congrats to crew member Allison Mayes for predicting today's date as the first snowfall of the season!