KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Access to the home of Cades Cove’s first European settlers will be easier for many after the ribbon was cut on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s newest trail. Park officials and partners on Tuesday celebrated the completion of the wheelchair-accessible trail to the John Oliver cabin.

The trail meets the standards of the Architectural Barriers Act and provides access for visitors of all ability levels to one of Cades Cove’s most popular historic homesites. Guests will be able to enjoy the wildlife viewing opportunities for deer, turkey, bears, and grassland birds.

“The work of making our parks more accessible for all is so important,” Park 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.”  

The trail provides a view across the pastoral fields of Cades Cove leading up to the home of John and Lucretia Oliver, who settled there in 1818. The half-mile, paved trail is approximately 8 feet wide to provide adequate space for wheelchairs or other mobility devices to pass one another.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash and the Friends of the Smokies celebrate the opening of the wheelchair-accessible trail to the John Oliver cabin Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in Cades Cove.
Source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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.  

“The new trail provides a pathway for all to experience the natural wonder and history of Cades Cove,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “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.” 

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

Cades Cove Loop Road and the John Oliver Cabin are open daily from sunrise until sunset. For more information about the history of Cades Cove, visit the park website at