Stone Mountain State Park in Traphill, Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest in Purlear and several other state parks, educational state forests and state natural areas are closed until further notice for reasons related to the coronavirus.
“Our N.C. Forest Service staff noted that crowds were gathering and remaining in parking areas of Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest, which goes against the recommendations of social distancing,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
“We hope we will be able to reopen the forest soon when the threat of spreading the coronavirus has ended. To get there though, everyone needs to do their part in social distancing.”
Bob Myers, Rendezvous superintendent, said an estimated 250 people were at Rendezvous the weekend of March 28 and 29. Myers said many were people in their 30s and younger congregating in the main Rendezvous parking area. Weekend crowds don’t normally exceed 150 in the spring at Rendezvous, said Myers.
He added that license plates on vehicles indicated that the majority were from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.
All trails, streams, trailheads, forest facilities, parking areas and Rendezvous Mountain State Forest Game Land are unavailable to the public during the closure. This includes the Wyatt Road and Benny Parsons Road access points for game land.
“Unless new executive orders require otherwise, forest service staff will continue to maintain trails, facilities and all areas during this temporary closure,” said a forest service spokesman, adding that they are practicing social distancing and following other guidelines from state public health officials.
DuPont State Recreational Forest and Holmes Educational State Forest, both near Hendersonville, are also temporarily closed to the public. All events, workshops, training and educational and group programming at these three state recreational forests are canceled, postponed or rescheduled until further notice.
Portions of Tuttle State Recreational Forest near Lenoir were still open as of Friday.
Other local sites
All areas of W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir remain closed until further notice.
All town parks in Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro are closed.
The Yadkin River Greenway in and near the two towns was still open to the public as of Friday.
Stone Mountain and several other state parks were closed to the public until further notice as of March 25 due to overcrowding. There would already normally be a crowd at Stone Mountain this weekend due to the opening of trout season.
A state park spokesman said a record estimated crowd of 4,000 people was at Stone Mountain the weekend prior to March 25. “There is no way to have correct social distancing on the trails with that many people,” said the spokesman.
Other state parks, Mount Jefferson
Others state parks temporarily closed include New River in Ashe and Alleghany counties, Elk Knob in Watauga County and Grandfather Mountain in Watauga, Caldwell and Avery counties.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area in Ashe is also temporarily closed.
Blue Ridge Parkway
On the Blue Ridge Parkway, all restroom and portable toilets, visitor centers, picnic areas, campgrounds, concession facilities and Peaks of the Otter Lodge and Pisgah Inn are closed.
National Park Service (NPS) officials announced on March 24 that the southernmost 14 miles of the Parkway, from Milepost 455 to 469, are closed effective immediately to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and in coordination with travel restrictions in place from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Great Smoky Mountains Park.
For updated information about public access to state forests, state parks, state natural areas and NPS properties during the COVID-19 pandemic, go to their respective Facebook pages or websites.
All areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are closed except for the Foothills Parkway and Spur, at least through April 30.