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Pardon Our Progress – Rainbow Falls Trail Renovations

Some information to share with visitors who enjoy the iconic Rainbow Falls trail in the Smokies – from now until November 15th, Rainbow Falls will only be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to allow renovation construction to take place on the trail.

This renovation announce comes as the second part of a two-year trail rehabilitation project for the trail as the “Trails Forever Crew” works to improve visitor safety against sections of the trail that have eroded over time and wear due to its constant foot traffic. The trail will also see an aesthetic improvement as part of the project.

some quotes from officials on the project are as follows:

“This work will be a long-term solution to the various safety and route-finding issues found along this section of the Rainbow Falls Trail, and will allow visitors to enjoy the trail and the scenic areas surrounding it safely for years to come. This project would not be possible without the generous support from our park partner, Friends of the Smokies, who provide funding for the project through the trails forever endowment program.” Tobias Miller – trails and roads facility manager.

“I encourage everyone to hike the trail this season on the open days to see the transformation taking place first hand,”  “It is truly inspiring to see the craftsmanship our Trails Forever crew brings into the design of trail improvements. The rehabilitated sections are not only more sustainable and safer for hikers, but they also blend naturally into the landscape.” – Cassius Cash, Smokies Superintendent.

Trails Forever is a collaboration program between the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the non-profit Friends of the Smokies organization. Friends of the Smokies donated more than $1.5 million towards the improvement project. Other crews and volunteers have contributed towards the trails’ wellbeing in the past and the present. With 11 millions visitors potentially expected to visit the National Park in 2018, the Smokies retains its status as the busiest national park in the country. Fittingly, the Smokies is the only national park that has its own dedicated restoration and construction crew. Previous trails restored by Trails Forever include Alum Cave, Chimney Tops and Forney Ridge trails.

The National Park Service provides a description for the Rainbow Falls trail with the following: “A rainbow produced by mist from this 80-foot high waterfall is visible on sunny afternoons. During extended winter cold spells, an impressive ice formation builds around the falls. Between trailhead and falls, Rainbow Falls Trail gains about 1,500′ in elevation. The 5.4 mile roundtrip hike is considered moderate in difficulty. The Rainbow Falls Trail continues for approximately 4 miles beyond the falls to the summit of Mount Le Conte. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 5.4 miles and the hike is generally considered moderate in difficulty. However due to the length, elevation gain, and rocky terrain in sections of the trail, some visitors may rate the hike as difficult. It takes about 3-5 hours to hike to the waterfall and back.” – NPS.gov

Sources for this article include:

https://www.citizen-times.com/story/life/2018/04/20/trail-mount-leconte-smoky-mountains-close-renovation/519753002/

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/tennessee/2017/05/02/two-year-rehab-begin-rainbow-falls-trail-smokies/101199660/

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/rainbow-falls-pyv.htm