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Our Commitment to Accessibility & Inclusion

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Haywood County’s breathtaking views, tranquil trails, and quaint Appalachian culture are meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Though we believe recreation is a universal right, we recognize that the regional terrain and current infrastructure render much of our beautiful mountains inaccessible to disabled people. All of our visitors should be able to travel with confidence. Therefore, we are committed to making an expansive effort to ensure Haywood County is increasingly equitable, inclusive, and accommodating to the diverse needs and identities of our visitors.

While we are still working to develop accessible venues and experiences in Haywood County, we are proud to currently offer:

Before you head into the valley, pick up an inexpensive Cataloochee Auto Tour booklet from our Visitor Center and learn about the surrounding history from your vehicle! The booklet includes information on the valley’s historic schoolhouse, churches, a barn, and homes. The road leading into the valley is unpaved in some stretches, then turns to pavement along a portion of the auto tour, and eventually into gravel. Vehicles can turn around before the tour moves into Little Cataloochee Trail.  

Lake Junaluska’s Walking Trail is a paved path––with the exception of 2 level wooden bridges––with 2.3-mile and 3.8-mile loops, both of which are mostly flat. There are gazebos and benches along the pathway, for shade and rest. Click here to download a map of the trail. 

The Canton Rec Park offers accessible restrooms as well as the Pigeon River Scenic Walking Trail, which is paved with minimal incline.  

Situated at an impressive 5,580-foot elevation, this overlook is a favorite for birding and sightseeing along the Parkway. The overlook is paved with a well-maintained, wheelchair-accessible wooden observation deck. There are edge curbs, railings, and benches along the 5-foot-wide path.  

Waterrock Knob Visitor Center has accessible restrooms. Note, while the ¼-mile path to the first overlook is paved, it is an incredibly steep trail.  

Graveyard Fields is one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s most popular areas. The Graveyard Fields Overlook has sweeping views and accessible restrooms. The trail to the Upper Falls is not accessible. The trail to the Lower Falls is paved but includes a steep set of stone stairs. Find more information from the National Park Service here.

The Big Creek Picnic Area has an ADA-accessible picnic table, but the area itself is a downhill walk from the parking lot, so folks with mobility aids might require assistance.  

Part of our commitment involves continuously reviewing and updating our plans to expand and improve access and inclusion. Stay tuned for a comprehensive list of Haywood County’s accessible experiences.

We invite all visitors to our Visit NC Smokies Visitor Center, which currently has accessible parking and curb cuts for those with mobility impairments.

Let’s work together to ensure our outdoors are welcoming to all. 

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