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Home » Blog » Smoky Mountains » The National Park Completes a New Handicap Accessible Trail in Cades Cove
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The National Park Completes a New Handicap Accessible Trail in Cades Cove

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On September 28, park officials and the public celebrated the completion of the John Oliver Accessible Trail in Cades Cove. This half-mile, paved trail is about 8 feet wide in order to accommodate those with wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Meeting the standards of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), this trail in Cades Cove provides access to the John Oliver Cabin for visitors of all ability levels.

Where is the Trail?

Located off the Cades Cove Loop Road, leading up to the historic John Oliver Cabin, this trail is easily accessible for all guests. When creating a trail that would provide handicap visitors with a convenient and comfortable way to explore Cades Cove, the national park wanted to ensure the trail was in a spot where these guests could take in all the cove had to offer. In addition to access to this fan favorite historical site, this trail also provides unique and beautiful views of the pastoral fields and mountains within Cades Cove. This spot is also great for wildlife viewing, including seeing animals like deer, turkey and bears.

The John Oliver Cabin

cabinBuilt in the early 1820s, the John Oliver Cabin was constructed by John and Lucretia Oliver, the first permanent European settlers of Cades Cove. The national park now maintains the cabin and has opened this historic building to the public. When you visit Cades Cove, you are free to explore both levels of the cabin and the surrounding area. There are sometimes volunteers at the cabin who are happy to answer any questions you may have about the cabin for the history of this Appalachian area. We recommend giving yourself at least 45 minutes to get to the cabin and back, with time for exploring.

Funding for the Project

Funding for this awesome new trail in Cades Cove was provided by the generosity of the National Park Foundation and donations from Friends of the Smokies. Friends of the Smokies is an amazing organization who have worked to help protect and preserve the park for years.

“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.”

What to Do in Cades Cove

If you’re visiting Cades Cove for the first time and aren’t sure what there is to do, we have a few recommendations. For those able, you can bike the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road, taking in gorgeous views of the mountains and valleys along the way. If you aren’t interested in biking, feel free to drive the loop!

black bearCades Cove is one of the best places to see animals in the Great Smoky Mountains. Guests will frequently see deer grazing in the fields of families of black bears making their way across the road. Make sure to stay at least 50 years (150 feet) away from these animals at all times so as to not disturb or provoke them.

There is also a picnic area within Cades Cove that is perfect for relaxing and taking in the views after your drive or bike ride. This area is located near the exit of the cove and provides 81 individual picnic sites with a table and grill, plus access to restrooms.

Now that you know more about the new handicap accessible trail in Cades Cove, you can plan to check it out on your next visit. Looking for other fun things to do in the Smokies? Check out all the activities you can try in the national park and begin planning your getaway to the mountains.