The 184-year-old mountain road, once considered too dangerous for tourists, has reopened in the depths of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The one-way Parson Brunch Road is considered an artifact of what the Smokey Mountains were before the Civil War. It is primitive, shady, narrow and unpaved.
It has been closed since 2016 due to a threat that emerged only after crews noticed a suspicious number of dead trees hanging over the route, according to a press release from the National Parks Service.
The final count revealed more than 1,700 dead trees, each of which may have been destined to fall on the road.
The threat was so serious that the National Park Service closed Parson Branch Road indefinitely and invested $ 300,000 in removing trees, adding gravel and replacing pipes.
“Trees have died due to widespread infestation of the intangible forest pest by hemlock,” the National Parks Service said. “Over the last six years, more than half of the dead trees have fallen due to natural deterioration and many strong winds, making it possible to remove the remaining damaged trees.”
Parson Brunch Road, which leads to U.S. 129, is described by TripAdvisor as both “pacifier” and “real adventure”, including 18 places where drivers have to cross streams.
It was originally created as a trade route for people living in Cades Cove, giving them “direct access to the Little Tennessee River for merchandise trade,” the park said. The Cades Cove the township is now also part of the park.
“The eight-mile road now gives motorists a trail-like experience with almost 20 creek crossings,” the park said.
However, the park remains challenging and will only be open from April to November. It is also recommended that only high-wedge cars try to drive it.
“Motorhomes, buses, minibuses over 25 feet long, as well as cars towing trailers are prohibited,” the park said.