The Cades Cove Loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closed a couple of days for pest control.
Park managers closer the 11 mile loop to all vehicles on Wednesday, December 1st, and will impose a partial closure on Thursday, December 2nd to treat hemlock trees infected by the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Park forestry technicians will spray a horticultural oil from large truck-mounted units. They've been spraying these treatments since 2004.
Jesse Webster, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Project Coordinator, said that "In addition to the spraying method, the park also employs systemic insecticidal treatments and biocontrol insects to reduce the impacts of the nonnative insect. Recent research is showing many positive effects in areas of these treatments,
despite the noticeable decline of tree vigor and mortality throughout the park."
During the full closure on December 1st, only hikers will be allowed to travel the Loop Road. Bicyclists will not be allowed to enter the Loop Road for safety reasons since there will be heavy equipment on the road
The spraying operation on December 2nd will only impact the western end of the Loop Road. Motorists and cyclists will be able to enter the Loop as they normally would, but will have to detour across the Loop via Hyatt Lane (the second gravel crossroad) to exit Cades Cove. Hikers can continue through the closed portion. The detour will shorten the length of
the trip to an 8-mile tour of Cades Cove.
The Hyatt Lane bypass will eliminate access to the Cades Cove Visitor Center and Cable Mill area as well as the several trailheads located on the western end of Cades Cove:
Abrams Falls, Cooper Road, Rabbit Creek, and Wet Bottom Trails, and Gregory Ridge trailhead.
The spraying is weather dependent, so heavy rain or freezing temperatures could delay the operation. To check the status of the road closure, visitors can call the Park's general information number at 865/436-1200.