Great Smoky Mountains National Park to reopen

WASHINGTON (AP), May 8 — When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park becomes one of the country’s first national parks to reopen Saturday, some of its most popular trails will remain off limits.

Major roadways, most trails and some restroom facilities will be accessible, but it’s unclear when the Laurel Falls, Chimney Tops and Alum Cave trails will reopen, park spokeswoman Dana Soehn says. She says safety will be stressed as officials seek to follow federal and state guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We think that access to the three most heavily used trails just simply wouldn’t be possible with CDC social distancing guidelines,” Soehn said.

The push to restore access to some of the country’s most treasured spaces comes six weeks after the park abruptly shut its gates after visitors weren’t following social distancing guidelines.

Located on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Great Smoky Mountains is the nation’s most visited national park.

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