While tornadoes are fairly rare in this part of the state, a few that sprang up two years caused quite a bit of damage in the park that was still being felt up until just a few days ago.
Due to the storm that produced those tornadoes, the national park service had to close two major trails in the area. Those two Smoky Mountain hiking trails have now reopened and are ready for heavy hiking boot traffic.
The National Park Service said the Beard Cane and Hatcher Mountain trails – both in the west end of the 500,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park – have been repaired and are again open. They were the last of 10 damaged trails to be reopened.
Thousands of trees were knocked down by an F-4 tornado that struck near Cades Cove in April 2011, forcing the closing of 50 miles of trails. One campsite, Backcountry Site 11, has been permanently closed because damage left it unsuitable for use.