As far as vacation tips for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park goes, many people ask about handicap parking and other accessible areas before making the trip. In Townsend, while some of these designated areas can be hard to find, they’re well worth the trip.
The majority of the picnic areas around the national park are not accessible to handicapped individuals. Most are just your everyday picnic table, which is fine for most users, but for someone who is handicapped, a standard picnic table can be very difficult to maneuver around. You’ll also find that reaching these areas requires a trip down a small dirt or gravel pathway. These trails can make getting to the picnic areas, well, not quite a picnic. Still there are places near the park where this is not the case. In Townsend, Tn, otherwise known as the “Peaceful side of the Smokies”, there are several handicap-accessible picnic areas.
One such place overlooks the Little River in Townsend. While it is a bit off the beaten path, it’s well worth seeking out if you have someone in your group that requires a little assistance to enjoy the family picnic. Coming into Townsend from Pigeon Forge or Wears Valley, take a right when you get to the junction of Wears Valley Road and Hwy 321. There will be signs for Tuckaleechee Caverns followed by a few small blue signs indicating handicapped accessible picnic areas and where each is located.
The walk to the picnic tables is paved. The curb is ramped to allow wheelchair-bound visitors or someone on crutches an easy way to get up to the picnic area. There are no gravel or dirt pavements here so no need to worry about accidentally flipping over trying to get to the tables.
Each of these picnic tables are built with a person in a wheelchair or mobility assistance device in mind. One side of the table is unencumbered with enough room for a wheelchair to pull up to. No longer does the person in the wheelchair have to feel left out because they cannot get up to the picnic table. No longer does the person with special needs have to worry about having their traveling companions help them into the picnic table.
All these handicapped accessible picnic tables are right on the water. Want to take a swim in the cool mountain water of the Little River? Go right ahead. Want to cast your rod for some brown trout? Throw your line in right here. Moreover, these picnic areas are designed with the handicapped individual in mind. Making sure that everyone in your party can enjoy their trip to the Smoky Mountains is always on the mind of the people on this side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.