Paint Creek Road and the recreation sites along the so-called "Paint Creek Corridor" through which the road passes were severely damaged by flash flooding in August 2001.
Located in Cherokee National Forest's Nolichucky-Unaka Ranger District about 10 miles southeast of Greeneville, Paint Creek Road can be reached via Rollins Chapel Road off either the Asheville Highway (Tennessee Highway 70 South) or Houston Valley Road (Tennessee Highway 107).
Terry Bowerman, the Cherokee National Forest's Nolichucky-Unaka District Ranger, said, "It's taken considerable money, time and hard work to reopen this area."
The $5 million road-reconstruction project was financed through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads project (ERFO), Bowerman noted.
That program provides money to repair damaged roads on federal lands, Bowerman said.
"Northeast Tennessee contractors Bob Stout and Grover Gosnell did the road repair work, but district personnel and many volunteers, including the Boy Scouts from the Sequoyah Council, have devoted many hours to cleaning up and repairing the dispersed and developed recreation sites located along the corridor," Bowerman said.
Forest Service personnel are pleased to have the area open for the public to enjoy, according to a press release.
"Visitors who traditionally used the road prior to the flood will see some changes to the Paint Creek Corridor," Bowerman said.
"The changes are a result of flood damage to facilities as well as changes in management along the corridor."
Single Lane Road
Paint Creek Road is a single-lane road with "pull-outs," the release said.
Visitors can park on the pavement only in designated, signed parking areas, it noted.
"Visitors also may park on graveled shoulders wide enough to accommodate vehicles, but Paint Creek Road cannot be blocked," the Forest Service warned.
In order to create a safe environment for all users and minimize congestion, horse trailers are not allowed anywhere in the corridor, including Moses Turn.
Dispersed camping is allowed only in areas that are marked with a tent camping symbol.
There is no longer a $2 fee to park and use sites along Paint Creek Corridor, the Forest Service said.
During the road's closure, fish stocking was difficult and therefore occurred on a limited basis. Since the road has reopened, fish stocking has continued on a regular basis.
Though the road is open for use, there is one remaining task to finish before the road is considered complete - the installation of vehicle speed-control devices, according to the press release.
Until the devices are in place, no horses will be allowed on the road.
"These devices are needed to control the speed of the vehicles along the corridor and create a safe environment for all forest users," the release noted. "Unfortunately, district law enforcement personnel have already noticed a number of people driving above the posted speed limit."
The speed limit is 20 mph.
Picnic Area Restoration
Entire picnic areas or portions of picnic
areas were destroyed during the flood and have not been replaced.
But the Nolichucky-Unaka Ranger District is scheduled to receive funding in 2007 to continue restoring the picnic areas along the Paint Creek Corridor.
The funding will be used to replace some restrooms, picnic tables and grills as well as provide more accessible picnic sites, according to the press release.
"We fully expect Paint Creek Corridor to be a popular destination for many forest hikers, picnickers, people driving for pleasure, anglers, hikers, bikers and equestrians," Bowerman said.
"We fully anticipate users to be fully aware of the different user groups using the forest and respect their right to recreate in Cherokee National Forest. This will help make the corridor a safe place to recreate and allow everyone to have an enjoyable visit to Cherokee National Forest."
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the Paint Creek Corridor will be announced soon, according to the District Ranger's office.
For additional information, contact the Cherokee National Forest's Nolichucky-Unaka Ranger District office at 638-4109.