Cherokee Park will open back up to vehicle traffic beginning next week, but some areas will still be limited to pedestrians only.
Metro Parks officials announced that the northern portion of the 2.4 mile scenic loop will allow cars again starting Monday, June 28. Visitors will be able to enter off Eastern Parkway near the Daniel Boone statue onto a one-way path that exits at Dingle Road. The southern portion of the loop off Lexington Road will also open to one-way traffic. The reopening provides vehicle access to many of Cherokee Park’s amenities, like the basketball courts in the north and the archery and rugby fields to the south. The park has been closed to vehicular traffic since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Metro Parks Department put out a survey for visitors to Cherokee earlier this year and found nearly 70% of respondents wanted the park to remain car-free. Layla George, president of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, said many people have enjoyed the escapism offered by change.
“The experience of being in the park without cars, quite honestly, has been magical,” George said. “It’s really an incredible experience to be in the park, in the middle of the city of Louisville and feel like you’re in the middle of the wilderness.”
The Olmsted Parks Conservancy is a nonprofit that helps the Metro government maintain 18 parks within Jefferson County. Data collected by the conservancy in May found that visitors to Cherokee Park increased by 80% during the pandemic, when cars were prohibited.
George said she thinks the new arrangement strikes a good balance between what pedestrians want and the needs of people with mobility issues or families with small children.
“There’s a lot of reasons why people want to drive into the park, so we wanted to make sure that all the major hotspots for the park were still easily accessible,” she said.
In a statement, Metro Parks officials said they plan to continue to study “traffic and usage in the park.” They also plan to hold a public meeting later this summer to gather feedback on the new changes.