sugarlands trail
April 29, 2024

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its stunning natural beauty. The mountains are some of the oldest in the world, yet the scenery is timeless! Every visitor should get a chance to see this attraction in all its glory, regardless of their physical ability. With that being said, read on to learn more about how the Great Smoky Mountains National Park plans to expand its adaptive programs!

1. Adaptive Off-Road Equipment

One way the park plans to expand its adaptive programs is by providing visitors with adaptive off-road equipment, one of which is a wheelchair. It will have the typical two wheels on either side in the back, as well as a front wheel. These features will help the user navigate the rugged terrain on some of the trails. The park will also offer adaptive mountain bikes as well. This is a seated mountain bike that allows the rider to pedal with their feet and steer and brake with their hands. So far, 3 trails in the park have been evaluated and approved for the use of adaptive equipment.

2. Adaptive Programs

bradley fork trail

Visitors will use the off-road adaptive equipment in volunteer and ranger-led programs this summer. For example, visitors can hike on the Bradley Fork Trail. This is a 7.3-mile trail on the North Carolina side of the park. The route includes many picturesque creeks with wooden bridges for crossing. If you come in the warmer months, colorful wildflowers will be blooming along the trail. Other programs include biking on the Deep Creek Trail. It is also located on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Notable sights along this route include 3 waterfalls. The trail also has a backcountry campground that is open to visitors from early April through late October. In addition to the scenery, these programs are a great social activity as well. Being out in nature with no distractions is a great way to bring people together.

3. Other Activities

While the adaptive programs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are currently expanding, there have always been great activities for those with physical disabilities. For example, the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is ADA-accessible. It has a roundtrip distance of 0.5 miles and flat terrain. As for scenery, the trail follows along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. There are also historical remnants along the way, some of which include old chimneys and stone fences. Another great activity is going for a scenic drive. Popular routes include Cades Cove Loop Road. It is open year-round. Look out for the John Oliver Cabin. It was built in the 1800s by one of the first settlers in Cades Cove and is the oldest human structure in the park. You may even be able to spot some wildlife, as black blears are very populous here. Other scenic drivers to take include the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Tail. It is open from March to December!

We hope you enjoyed learning more about how Great Smoky National Park is expanding their adaptive programs. Want to learn more about another program in the park? Check out why kids love becoming a national park junior ranger!