Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — Several roads and trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are closed after flash flooding washed over the Greenbrier area Tuesday night.
The park said it has temporarily closed roads, trails, and facilities in the Greenbrier area of the park to all drivers and pedestrians due to flood damage.
The GSMNP said nearly 9 inches of rain fell within just a few hours in the Porters Gap area. The area was already saturated by another 5 inches of rain the mountains had received over the past week, causing the sudden downpour to flood the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River.
The river rapidly rose, threatening campers and washing away vehicles at the Greenbrier Campground in Sevier County. Nearly 400 people had to evacuate to higher ground around 8 to 10 p.m. until the river receded. No injuries were reported.
The park said flooding has been an issue with all the rain it has seen recently, saying it had to rescue a child from flood waters last Friday in the Chimneys Picnic Area.
“We remind everyone to be mindful of weather forecasts and to be prepared with an emergency plan before heading out into the backcountry as these popup storms can cause the rivers to rise rapidly,” said Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski. “Just last Friday, emergency responders from the park and Gatlinburg Fire and Rescue successfully rescued a 13-year-old boy from rising flood waters in the Chimneys Picnic Area. Please exercise caution when recreating near or attempting to cross rivers in the park.”
The park said flooding caused significant road washout along Porters Creek Road and damaged the Ramsey Cascades Trail. The park said the temporary closure includes all roads in that area, as well as the Greenbrier Picnic Area, Greenbrier Picnic Pavilion, Ramsey Cascades Trail, Porters Creek Trail, and Backcountry Campsites 31, 32, and 33.
The park said the Old Settlers, Brushy Mountain and Grapeyard Ridge trails will stay open, but said hikers won't be able to access the trails from the Greenbrier area and should plan their routes carefully.
Hikers should be prepared to turn around if they encounter high-water river crossings or damaged trail conditions along these routes," the GSMNP said.
The park said it will be able to provide a repair schedule after it completes damage assessments.
For more information about temporary road closures across the park, you can visit the park's website.