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GONE WILD — The elk of Cataloochee Valley have had a reprieve from people from several months. The valley was closed even before the coronavirus shut down the Smokies due to road repairs being done along the only road in.

Cataloochee Valley, Haywood County’s treasured section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, remains closed and won’t open until June 6 at the absolute earliest.

Cataloochee is among outlying areas of the park that remain closed. The park will make an announcement the first week of June on whether additional areas of the park will be opening.

Cataloochee would be closed right now anyway, however. Road repairs from a landslide along Cove Creek Road, the only way in to Cataloochee, have been underway since winter and aren’t done yet.

Here’s an update on what’s now open for outdoor recreation on public lands in Haywood County.

Pisgah National Forest: Trails are now open, including trails in Shining Rock, Black Balsam, Graveyard Fields and Max Patch. There are no restrooms or working water spigots anywhere, however. Bring plenty of water and a ziplock bag to pack out your used toilet paper.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: While the main road through the park is open, most outlying areas on the N.C. side of the park remain closed until at least the first weekend of June, including Big Creek and Cataloochee in Haywood County.

Blue Ridge Parkway: open, except no restrooms or visitor services.

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