People who used to walk up the purchase route in Great Smoky Mountains National Park might have a harder time doing so, after the National Park Service put up more no-parking signs along the road.
The new no-parking signs were installed along the left side of the road in early June. Initially, additional signs were put up in places they weren’t supposed to go, but they have since been removed, said Caitlin Worth, acting management assistant for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The new signs eliminate makeshift parking for around 15 cars along the left side of Purchase Road just before a gate on the other side of the road, but leave enough room for around four to eight vehicles to pull through. park, depending on their size and parking configuration, Worth said.
The closed road was never designed or engineered to function as a public trail, and the area has seen “tremendous growth in popularity,” Worth said. The aim is to limit parking in the area, but not to eliminate it.
“There were times when there were so many partially parked cars on the road that there was no way for emergency vehicles to get on the road,” Worth said. “It’s a question of visitor safety and park resources. Ultimately, it comes down to managing usage at a level that the resource can support. “
The new no-parking signs are installed on National Park Service property along the left side of Purchase Road. The right side of the road is private and already marked with a parking ban.
Beyond the gate, Purchase Road leads to the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center and other trails in the park.
According to the National Park Service, “The Purchase” includes 535 acres of land and buildings donated to it in 2000. The plot includes Purchase Knob, a historic cabin, and two buildings that contain offices, a laboratory, a classroom. and accommodation for visiting scientists. It became one of the first five learning centers created by Congress in 2001 to support research in national parks.
Tony Malinauskas, a resident of Maggie Valley, said that while Purchase Road may never have been meant to be a trailhead, “it is certainly a de facto now,” and what many local hikers do appreciate.
“It’s good that they’ve removed some signs to allow some parking, but the double-arrow no-parking signs at many parts of the left side still make it look like the whole side is off-limits,” he said. he declared. “And especially in good weather, well over five to six cars are parked there. I would love to see a creative solution that allows adequate parking and protects the beloved natural resources there.