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Great Smoky Mountains National Park completes new accessible trail in Cades Cove

The park said the half-mile, paved trail is about 8 feet wide to provide adequate space for wheelchairs or other mobility devices to pass one another.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park officially opened the John Oliver Cabin Accessible Trail in Cades Cove.

Park officials and partners celebrated the completion of the trail accessibility project at the John Oliver Cabin on Sept. 28. 

The newly created trail meets standards of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and provides access for visitors of all ability levels, according to a release from the park.

The park said the half-mile, paved trail is about 8 feet wide to provide adequate space for wheelchairs or other mobility devices to pass one another.

“The work of making our parks more accessible for all is so important,” Superintendent Cassius Cash said. “Now all visitors have the opportunity to leave the roadway and be more fully immersed in the Cades Cove story through a trail experience within the historic landscape.”  

Officials said the trail provides a unique view across the pastoral fields associated with the home of Cades Cove’s first European settlers, John and Lucretia Oliver, who moved there in 1818. The fields provide outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities for deer, turkey, bears and grassland birds. 

“The new trail provides a pathway for all to experience the natural wonder and history of Cades Cove,” President and CEO of the National Park Foundation Will Shafroth said. “Thanks to the initiative of Friends of the Smokies and support from NPF and our donors, more people will be able to access and to share the beauty of this place.”

Funding for the project was made possible through a $150,000 donation provided by the National Park Foundation and a $57,000 donation provided by the Friends of the Smokies, according to the park.

“It is such an honor to partner with Superintendent Cash and his staff in helping fulfill this vision of making park experiences more accessible,” said Sharon Pryse, Board of Directors Chair for Friends of the Smokies. “We’re grateful for the donations of all our ‘Friends’ who make it possible for us to support special park projects.”  

The Cades Cove Loop Road and the John Oliver Cabin are open daily from sunrise until sunset.