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Accessible Hiking Trails: Providing Access To Outdoor Opportunities For All

Planning a hiking or camping trip but need wheelchair or stroller accessible trails? Use these free resources from Hiking For Her to make sure everyone enjoys equal access to the great outdoors.

Accessible hiking trails are defined as those which allow people of any age or physical condition to enjoy outdoor time and great scenery.

This includes people who:

  • use wheelchairs,
  • use strollers for transporting small children,
  • are rehabilitating after an injury or surgery,
  • want to slowly improve physical fitness levels,
  • have physical limitations due to aging, pregnancy, or diagnosed medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis or chronic fatigue syndrome.

There are various categories of accessibility, so let's take a look at them.

ADA accessible hiking trails
(barrier free)

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) ensures that public accommodations are made to provide outdoor access for everyone on newly built hiking trails (among other things it covers).

There are specific guidelines which define accessibility, to ensure wheeled transportation access.

For an exhaustive list of current accessible trails, consult the American Trails Training Partnership. They provide on line information to locate:

  • accessible trails
  • greenway designs
  • new projects
  • legal issues
  • training opportunities
  • proposed federal guidelines

National park accessible trails

The United States national park system is required to provide accessibility via legislation:

  • Architectural Barriers Act, 1968
  • Rehabilitation Act, 1973
  • Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990 (see above)

If you are planning to visit a specific national park and are wondering about accessibility for trails and camping, visit that park's website for further information to make your camping and outdoor time plans.

  • This link is the place to start.
  • Click on the state you plan to visit, select the specific park from the exhaustive list, and read the "Plan Your Visit" information.

You might also be interested in the NPS document describing their five year strategic plan for improving access to outdoor recreation:

Wheelchair accessible hiking trails
in the United States

Need a list of wheelchair accessible asphalt, concrete and crushed limestone surfaced trails, organized by state?

An organization devoted to
accessible outdoor time for all

The Outdoors For All Foundation's mission statement says it all:

"To enrich the quality of life for children and adults with disability through outdoor recreation."

They keep an active wish list, if you would like to contribute to their mission by providing supplies and gear.

More resources you can use

Cerebral Palsy Guidance has an article with lots of tips on providing accessibility: Enjoying the Great Outdoors with a Physical Disability

  • In addition, the article highlights two groups which provide adaptive outdoor adventures in Utah and Colorado.

This Washington Trails Association (WTA) article on accessible trails outlines some of the challenges of providing equal access to hiking trails, and provides accessibility and adaptive trail resources.

Questions about accessible
hiking trails?

Contact me and I'll do my best to find you some answers!

It's important to get every person into fresh air and sunshine, surrounded by the soothing sounds, smells and sights of Nature.

And please share your knowledge of which hiking trails are accessible to all, using that contact link, and I'll add them here.

Thank you!

Home page > Types of Hiking > Accessible Hiking Trails

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