GATLINBURG (WATE) – The Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains reopened Thursday after undergoing a two-year construction project.
This marked the first major update of the trail since its original construction nearly a century ago.
“I sometimes have to pinch myself to be able to work in a National Park and do projects like this,” Tobius Miller, project manager, said.
Miller has had a busy couple of years. He’s been leading the makeover of the Alum Cave Trail, with the help of dozens of other workers and volunteers.
“Hikers now will be able to hike up the trail without being concerned that they’re going to trip over roots or rocks,” he said. “They’ll be able to look at the views, talking with the people they’re hiking with and really take in the whole experience.”
Hikers have been waiting anxiously for the near century-old trail to reopen for good.
“We’re really excited that the trail is re-opening,” hiker Leland Wykoff said. “It’s been closed a couple years so that’s interfered with our ability to hike up to Mt. LeConte, so we’re really pleased that they’ve gotten this done.”
Workers said the improved trail has all the needed updates, while still maintaining its historic charm.
“I think people are going to be just amazing at seeing what this experience is like, because not only did they fix those heavily eroded areas, but they did it in such a way that it’s very reflective of the landscape and still stays true to the historical character of this trail,” Dana Soehn, Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesperson, said.
Miller said return visitors will notice the changes and will now be able to appreciate both the trail and the view like never before.
“They’re going to be able to walk with fewer obstructions, be less likely to fall off the trail,” Miller said. “They’re going to find that the footing is much better and the historic views that could be seen years ago will be much better. We’ve cleaned out the vegetation so you can see those historic views again. We were able to do the Chimney Tops Project before Alum Cave and both have these have been a dream come true to be able to fix this kind of stuff.”