If you or someone you love has a physical disability, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to experience the joys of hiking like everyone else. Because of the American Disabilities Act passed in 1990, just about everything in our country is becoming as accessible to people with disabilities as it is for those without; even backcountry hiking trails. Here’s where to go.
The Sprague Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park
Although the Rocky Mountains in Colorado are some of the most challenging places to hike, there are areas which are accessible to anyone who wants to try, even if they’re limited. The Sprague Lake Trail is great for people who require a wheelchair, who have visual impairments, or even children who can’t walk for too long. The trail is half a mile long, but features great views of the Continental Divide. The best part is there’s also an accessible campsite, which is perfect for those looking to make a trip out of it.
Trail of 100 Giants, Sequoia National Park
While this California trail isn’t officially marked as ‘wheelchair accessible’, the trail is designed in such a way that it’s extremely easy to maneuver. An easy, smooth trail with wide open ramps makes it a wonderful, majestic place for anyone and everyone to visit. The entire trail is a mile and a half, and through it you’ll be surrounded by these giant, gorgeous Sequoia trees.
The Bass Lake Trail, High Country Lake
Located in Boone, North Carolina, the Bass Lake loop is close to a mile long, and very supportive for anyone who needs a bit of help. The hike is a bit more of a challenge since the path is unpaved, but if you’re up for it, you’ll be complimented with great scenery and even an opportunity to fish. Depending on where you exit and enter the trail, you can make your trip as long or as short as you’d like.
Arabia Mountain Trail, Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve
The Arabia Mountain Trail is Georgia’s best kept secret. Compared to more popular hikes in this state, especially those along the Appalachian Trail, this one is way less crowded and much more accessible for all. The trail here features beautiful streams, waterfalls, and wildflowers, as well as views of stunning vistas in every direction. The long trail road is concrete which does attract many mountain bikers, so it’s important to be on the lookout while you’re here.
Running Eagle Falls, Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is absolutely beautiful, and nobody should have to miss it just because he or she has physical limitations. The Running Eagle Falls trail is located between Two Medicine Lake and Lower Two Medicine Lake, and the 0.6 mile hike is accessible for everyone. The path is wide enough for a wheelchair, and you’ll be able to see the magnificent falls, which have been given the name ‘Trick Falls’ since they can confuse your eyes a bit. When you’re finished here, you can also try The Trail of the Cedars, which is also handicapped-accessible.
Bear River State Park, Wyoming
Though this park isn’t quite as big as others in Wyoming, the trails here can keep you hiking here for a good portion of the day. While not all the trails are accessible, there’s one long trail that is completely asphalt, which means it’s easy for anyone who needs it. The best part about this park is that you’ll be able to get real close to wildlife, including elk, bison, and moose.
Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Located in Tennessee, the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is the only wheelchair accessible trail i this park. There’s so much to see in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and this half-mile trail provides hikers with sights in the park that many backpackers actually pass up on. You’ll get to see exciting historical features of the park, as well as the scenery surrounding the stream.
Ke Ala Hele Makalae Trail, Hawaii
Ke Ala Hele Makalae translates to, “The Path that Goes By the Coast’, but what it doesn’t translate to is that it’s a smooth, concrete path accessible to everyone. The entire trail is seven miles long and still being built. You can choose which sections of the trail you’d like to do, if you’re not up for doing all of it. Here, you can see breathtaking views of the water and the awesome, tropical landscapes surrounding you.
Despite how great it is that these places can accommodate everyone, there’s still a lot of work to be done as far as the ADA goes. It might be quite a while before the Appalachian Trail has become entirely accessible for those in wheelchairs, but in the meantime, these spots should keep you busy.