Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

National forest roads taking a beating from winter weather

Turkey Pen Gap Road on the Pisgah Ranger District will be temporarily closed due to damage that resulted from vehicles traveling on the road during winter weather conditions.
The road has ruts up to two feet deep in spots and is very slick making it unsafe for vehicles. A gate will be installed at the Forest Service boundary on Turkey Pen Gap Road. Visitors are reminded not to park on private property in the area before the gate.

Several other gravel roads are currently closed because they are highly susceptible to damage in freeze-thaw weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days loosen gravel making it easy for tires to degrade the road surface and create ruts. Unfortunately some drivers have gotten past the locked gates. People who violate the emergency closures have caused significant damage which will extend the closures until repairs can be made.
"This year many of our locks were cut off the gates exposing the roads to traffic during this sensitive time," said Pisgah District Ranger Dave Casey. "On some roads the damage is so severe that I'm unsure of when we'll be able to repair and reopen them."

Avery Creek Road, Head Waters Road, Yellow Gap Road and Bent Creek Road from Ledford Branch trailhead up to the Blue Ridge Parkway are also temporarily closed. There is no timeline for their reopening because it is dependent upon both the weather and necessary repairs.

Casey added, "We do not have the funding to grade and gravel all of the district roads multiple times per year. Our budget is generally sufficient to grade only the roads with the greatest need once per year. And if we have extensive road damage to fix, those repairs leave us less money to do regular road maintenance."

All gravel roads are rough at this time and visitors are asked to drive on any open roads with extreme caution to avoid causing damage. Damaged roads not only reduce access for the public but can inhibit emergency responders from accessing the forest to perform public safety duties.

Across the National Forests in North Carolina, certain roads are seasonally closed to motorized vehicles to reduce road maintenance costs, help protect wildlife habitat, decrease wildlife disturbance, and in specific cases to protect public safety during long bouts of adverse weather. On all Forest Service roads, emergency closures due to weather or resource conditions can occur at any time. Proper and timely road closures will lengthen the surface life of the road.