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Will storm-ravaged NC mountain parks recover in time for Memorial Day weekend?

Chimney Rock State Park was closed on Monday after four days of heavy rain collapsed a retaining wall at the park's entrance.
Chimney Rock State Park was closed on Monday after four days of heavy rain collapsed a retaining wall at the park's entrance. Screen grab of WBTV video

Two popular North Carolina mountain parks are trying to recover in time for Memorial Day weekend, after persistent heavy rains caused extensive damage.

Storms knocked down the retaining wall at the entrance to Chimney Rock State Park and washed away parts of two trails at Grandfather Mountain State Park.

Chimney Rock was closed on Monday so officials could assess the full extent of damage. The park will reopen on Tuesday, although debris is still being cleared. Visitors will have to ride a bus to the top of the park to get to all the trails, officials said.

Two trails at Grandfather Mountain State Park in Avery, Watauga and Caldwell counties are closed after 11 inches of rain dumped on the park Thursday through Sunday, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

And more rain is forecast for this week, the division said Monday.

The Nuwati and Cragway trails will likely be closed for several weeks as state park crews continue to assess damage, repair eroded sections of trail, and clear debris from around trails, according to the division.

Campsites accessed from the Nuwati Trail — Streamside, The Hermitage, Storyteller's Rock and The Refuge — also are closed until the trail reopens.

All other trails at Grandfather Mountain State Park remain open but are also severely eroded. Some have sections of steps washed out.

In some places, standing or moving water remains on the trails, and many areas along the Grandfather Mountain trails are slippery.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak
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