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When the winter season starts moving into the Smoky Mountains, we get lots of questions! To help you answer those questions, we’ve put together everything you need to know about road closures, winter hiking and more.
Smoky Mountains Road Closures
Each year, these roads shut down for a few months due to the winter season. During the winter months in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the weather gets icy and snowy, so it’s not safe to be driving on or hiking along these trails.
Balsam Mountain Road: Open May 22 – November 1
Cades Cove Loop Road: Closed Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 a.m. from May 6 through September 23. Otherwise, Cades Cove Loop Road is open daily.
Clingmans Dome Road: Open March 27 – November 30
Forge Creek Road: Open March 6 – December 31
Heintooga Ridge Road: Open May 22 – November 1
Little Greenbrier Road: Open April 10 – November 30
Parson Branch Road: Open April 10 – November 15
Rich Mountain Road: Open April 10 – November 15
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: Open May 1 – November 30
Roundbottom/Straight Fork: Open April 3 – November 1
For the most up to date information on road closures, check out the Current Road Conditions in the Smoky Mountains.
Of course, each year, the weather in the mountains gets quite cold, especially if you’re hiking and spending any amount of time in the upper elevations.
The best time to go hiking in the winter is at the beginning of the day, bright and early. During the winter months, the sun starts to set a lot earlier in the evening (around as early as 5 p.m.), so hiking earlier will get you safely off the trail before sunset.
What to Pack for Hiking in the Winter
When you go hiking in the Smoky Mountains winter weather, you want to be prepared. Even though it’s unlikely that anything will happen to you on the trails, it’s best to have what you need – just in case!
Pack lots of water! You may not think you need a lot of water since the weather isn’t hot and sunny, but you definitely do! Plus, you’re always better off to have extra water in your backpack than to not have enough. You don’t want to drink water from any of the streams or water sources in the national park because they are highly contaminated with bacteria that will make you sick very quickly.
Dress in layers! We’re sure you’ve heard this time and time again, but it couldn’t be more necessary. In the winter, the upper elevations are definitely colder than the lower elevations, so you may not need as many layers when you start out your hike. But by the time you hike to the upper elevations, you’ll be glad you packed an extra layer or two. And don’t forget an extra pair of dry socks!
For the latest information about the Smoky Mountains winter weather and the most up to date forecast for the coming week, take a look at our Smoky Mountain weather forecasts.