HIGH COUNTRY — On April 13, the National Forest Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced several trail, road and recreational area closures within the Pisgah National Forest due to COVID-19 until until Aug. 13 or until rescinded.

Popular hiking spots, such as Linville Falls, Table Rock Summit and the Mountains to Sea Trail, are included in these closures.

“One hundred and 20 days is standard for this type of emergency closure. It can be terminated early, and we expect that will happen, but we can’t fix a date just yet,” stated the U.S. Forest Service on its National Forests in North Carolina Facebook page.

Local closures by the NFS include the trails Spence Ridge, Shortoff, Little Table Rock, Table Rock Summit, Table Rock Gap, Hawksbill Linville Falls Access in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, Upper Creek and others.

Road closures include Table Rock Road, Mortimer R.A. Road, Chestnut Mountain Road, Steeles Creek Road, Brown Mountain Road, Marks Mountain, Old Fort Road, Lost Cove Road, Curtis Creek Road, New Gingercake Road, Mortimer Piedmont Road and Boone Fork Road.

Recreational closures include trailheads and campgrounds located nearby the closed trails.

A full list of Pisgah National Forest closures can be found online at https://bit.ly/2XEFxGm.

“More than 200 miles of roads and 700 miles of trails on the forest are still open,” according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Additionally, the National Park Service announced additional closures to the Blue Ridge Parkway on April 15, including a number of roadways and parking areas that are no longer open to vehicle traffic.

Restrooms, visitor centers, campgrounds and picnic areas along the parkway are also closed.

The following are recently closed roads and nearby areas, organized by milepost:

  • Milepost 292-294.5 — Road closed near Blowing Rock, including Moses Cone Parking Area and Highway 221 Bass Lake Parking Lot.
  • Milepost 294.5 — 296.4 — Road closed, including Price Park Picnic Area
  • Milepost 298.6 – 305 — Road closed through Grandfather Mountain area, including Rough Ridge and Linn Cove Viaduct
  • Milepost 305 – 308 — Road closed
  • Milepost 316.4 — Linville Falls Spur Road closed, including parking at Linville Falls trailheads
  • Milepost 334-342 — Road closed, including Crabtree Falls Area, near Little Switzerland, NC
  • Milepost 355-375.6 — Road closed from Mt. Mitchell to Ox Creek, including Craggy Gardens
  • Milepost 377.4 — Parking areas closed at Craven Gap (Town Mountain Rd) for MST Trail access
  • Milepost 384.7 — Roadside parking closed at MST Trailheads at US 74A Parkway access ramps
  • Milepost 393-469 — Road closed from French Broad River Overlook to Southern Terminus of Parkway

As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safer and healthier, according to its release on April 15.

Find more information from the NPS at www.nps.gov/blri.

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(1) comment

I fail to see how these closures support NC Gov. Cooper's or the CDC's Covid-19 guidance. In fact, they seem to be in opposition to allowances for personal outdoor exercise. The closures of the roads themselves will neither directly or indirectly contribute to a decrease in the spread of Covid-19. What it DOES do is deprive citizens of safe access to allowed activities and force citizens to find access to allowable trails where they must put themselves in greater danger because they must park or otherwise gain access in less-than-safe conditions such as parking and walking along roadways without adequate shoulders. At the very least, the NFS is depriving citizens of simply driving in their cars to see our beautiful BRP - which may be the only respite some people have. These actions are an illogical overreach of restrictions - especially given the planned duration, and they betray NFS's own statements of service to the public. Common sense and a dedication to the safe and effective provision of access to the BRP and these parks, areas and trails should be the goal. The NFS is failing themselves and the public.

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