TN State Parks add seven new all-terrain wheelchairs

Bradley Styler, who lives within five miles of Cummins Falls State Park, sees the falls for the first time at the new ADA accessible overlook. He is joined by Ranger Ashley Clark. The state recently added new all-terrain wheelchairs at seven more state parks – bringing the total to 12 statewide including nearby Tims Ford State Park. | PHOTO PROVIDED

From the gorgeous lakeside view at nearby Tims Ford State Park to the 75-foot waterfalls at Cummins Falls State Park, there’s nothing like immersing yourself in the natural beauty of our state. Now those who are differently-abled can see more of it, as the Tennessee State Parks system recently announced the availability of new all-terrain wheelchairs at seven state parks. This enhances accessibility for visitors and brings the total of parks with wheelchairs to 12.

The announcement is especially timely at Cummins Falls State Park, which has a new 3,600 sq. ft. ADA accessible overlook at the end of the .4-mile Falls Overlook Trail. Non-electric wheelchairs can also access the overlook.

We are delighted to offer this service,” said Greer Tidwell, deputy commissioner of Conservation for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). “We intend to serve every person who wants to visit our parks, and we are dedicated to making the experience the best it can be for everyone. We are grateful to Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly for the funding to make this happen.”

The new parks offering all-terrain wheelchairs include Cove Lake State Park, Cumberland Mountain State Park, Cummins Falls State Park, Chickasaw State Park, Long Hunter State Park, Natchez Trace State Park, and Warriors’ Path State Park.

The wheelchairs announced follows the availability of wheelchairs at Radnor Lake State Park, Tims Ford State Park, Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park, Henry Horton State Park, and Booker T. Washington State Park.

“We must remove barriers for everyone with disabilities, and these all-terrain wheelchairs are an important step for our parks,” said Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, who introduced the resolution declaring today as Disability Advocacy Day. “We want all Tennesseans to enjoy our parks, and the wheelchairs are just one way to show that commitment.”      

All-terrain wheelchairs are designed to navigate a wide range of terrains. They give visitors with limited mobility the opportunity to access and enjoy outdoor recreation that might otherwise be inaccessible. The chairs are free to the public and available for both children and adults. They can be operated independently and offer the option of allowing caretaker control.  

It is possible to request an all-terrain chair upon arrival at a park, but it may already be reserved for another guest, so visitors are asked to give advance notice of the need for a chair. TDEC is working to expand access to all-terrain wheelchairs in parks across the state.

The General Assembly recently appropriated over $1.2 million for all-terrain wheelchairs to be placed in the parks system, along with $1.6 million to make improvements to trail accessibility.

For more information about accessibility in Tennessee State Parks visit this link. To make a reservation to utilize an all-terrain wheelchair, visit this link. •

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