by Diane Spicer
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:
There are various categories of accessibility, so let's take a look at them.
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:
The United States national park system is required to provide accessibility via legislation:
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.
You might also be interested in the NPS document describing their five year strategic plan for improving access to outdoor recreation:
Need a list of wheelchair accessible asphalt, concrete and crushed limestone surfaced trails, organized by state?
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.
Cerebral Palsy Guidance has an article with lots of tips on providing accessibility: Enjoying the Great Outdoors with a Physical Disability
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.
If you're hiking in Washington State, use this ADA outdoor recreation map to plan your trips.
For tips on adaptive hiking equipment and techniques, visit Everyone Outdoors.
The Disabled Hiker also has some great tips for the adaptive hiking and backpacking community.
You can also look for recreation programs and resources at Outdoors For All.
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.
Accessible Hiking Trails
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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer.
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