CMLC’s Bearwallow Mountain Trail is currently OPEN but is subject to temporary closures this winter
to protect it from damage during the freeze/thaw cycle following significant snow and ice accumulations and subsequent wet and delicate soil conditions.
When temporarily closed, the summit of Bearwallow Mountain will remain OPEN.
Visitors/hikers may walk the gravel road to the top of the peak during instances of temporary trail closure. When closed, please help CMLC take good care of this special place by avoiding use of the Trail and instead choosing to walk the gravel road.
In times of temporary closure, CMLC will reopen the Bearwallow Mountain Trail as soon as possible. Trail closures will reopen when conditions are determined to be less susceptible to tread damage.
Because of the Bearwallow Mountain Trail’s immense popularity and high frequency of foot traffic, its natural surface tread is particularly susceptible to damage following the accumulation of snow and ice and the freezing of its soil followed by thawing. Use of this trail during the freeze/thaw cycle can wreak havoc on its sustainability and lead to significant damage that requires considerable repair while also negatively impacting the experience of its users in the future. Soil is upheaved in the freezing process, and when stepped on by foot-traffic it is crunched, and melted—a recipe that quickly results in substantial mud and soil displacement. Thus, walking on the trail during these instances will damage it.
In 2016, this process occurred repeatedly and frequently which ultimately prompted CMLC to close the Bearwallow Mountain Trail for several weeks at the end of winter—but only after the damage was done. This Winter, CMLC will strive to lessen the total impact and damage by shorter-term closures based on conditions. Closures should typically persist only a few days to a week, though more significant snow and ice accumulation and/or longer periods of freezing temperatures may cause longer closures. These closures will protect both the trail tread as well as the surrounding natural resources and prevent compounded damages that have occurred in the past under winter conditions.
Other CMLC trails in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge will remain open. While comprehensive closure of CMLC trails may be also beneficial during winter weather and freeze/thaw cycles, these other trails are less susceptible to damage than Bearwallow Mountain because they receive less traffic while also being at lower elevations. Increased traffic on other CMLC trails in the future may eventually cause the need for their temporarily closure during the winter as well.
For questions or more information, contact Peter Barr, CMLC Trails Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.