Trillium Gap Trail restoration work — highlight of Classic Hike

October 5, 2019

  • Trillium Gap Trail sign

by Julie Dodd

The September Classic Hike of the Smokies was on one of the most popular trails in the Park – Trillium Gap Trail.

Eleven hikers made the 13.1-mile roundtrip to Mt. Le Conte, which included hiking to Grotto Falls. Dolly McLean, an avid hiker, horticulturalist and REI Green Vest Expert, led the hike.

Trails Forever restoration work

Trillium Gap Trail currently is being restored by the FOTS Trails Forever crew. So the hikers were able to see the trail work in progress.

LeConte Lodge cabin

The hikers had lunch at LeConte Lodge. This is a view from the porch of the office. All photos by Linda Spangler.

The hikers saw both the Trails Forever Crew and an ACE (American Conservation Experience) crew in action.

Both crews were working hard breaking rock in extremely hot weather to create stairs. The results were incredible.

A 9-person NPS Trail Crew and an 8-person ACE crew are working on the trail full time from March through November and will continue work in 2020. Volunteers work with the crews on Wednesdays. (Learn more about how to be a crew volunteer.)

These photos show the variety of stairs that the Trails Forever Crew have installed to provide a safer hiking experience and to prevent trail erosion. (Read more about the Trillium Gap Trail restoration work.)

Stairs constructed on trail

hikers at LeConte Lodge

Members of the hiking group took a lunch break at a picnic table at LeConte Lodge.

Lunch at LeConte Lodge

The hikers saw a lot of ‘evidence’ of llamas on the trail. Trillium Gap is the trail the LeConte Lodge llamas use in making three-times-a-week treks to the lodge to deliver food and clean bedding.

The group had lunch outside LeConte Lodge and had a clear day and beautiful view of East Tennessee.

This is the first year of the Trillium Gap Trail restoration work. The trail is closed Monday through Thursday for trail work.


Thanks to Linda Spangler for providing the photos of the hike. You can see more of her photos from the hike on FOTS Facebook. Thanks to Marielle DeJong, FOTS event manager who was the sweep hiker, for sharing information about the hike.

The Classic Hikes of the Smokies are the second Tuesday of the month through December. Each Classic Hike is $20 for FOTS members and $35 for new and renewing members, which includes a one-year membership. 

The October Classic Hike will be on Tuesday, Oct. 8.  This challenging 9.4-mile hike will take the group up Hyatt Ridge Trail to McGee Spring Campsite, then connect to Beech Gap Trail and Straight Fork Road. This ‘lollipop hike’ will involve both steep uphill and downhill terrain, marked by tracts of beautiful old growth forest.

 You must register in advance.

The Classic Hikes of the Smokies series is a fundraiser for Trails Forever, a partnership between Friends of the Smokies and the National Park Service.

Trails Forever funds a full-time trail crew to reconstruct and rehabilitate some of the park’s most impacted trails. In November 2018, the crew completed the two-year restoration of Rainbow Falls Trail and now is restoring Trillium Gap Trail.

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