The ABCs of Accessible Trails: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona

We think it's important for everyone, regardless of age or ability, to spend time outdoors - and so does the Federal government.  The America the Beautiful Pass, otherwise known as the The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, is a free lifetime pass available to US citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability.  Passes can be obtained via phone, online, or in person at any of these recreation sites.

Even though federal law requires accessibility in all State and National Parks, these parks cover a lot of ground with multiple trails and attractions. With that in mind we decided to create a list of the most accessible trails in State and National parks. In order to keep things simple, we'll be working our way alphabetically through all 50 states. First up: Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona! 


Alabama 

Cheaha State Park - Doug Ghee Accessible Trail 

Take a trip to the highest point in Alabama. At 2,407 feet above sea level, Cheaha Resort State Park located on top of Cheaha Mountain has breathtaking views and fun recreational activities. This 2,799-acre mountaintop retreat offers visitors a little bit of everything. From quiet surroundings and accommodations to a magnificent lodge that can be used for family and group functions. Named by the Creek Indians “Chaha” meaning high place, Cheaha Resort State Park is truly a magnificent Alabama destination.
— http://www.alapark.com/cheaha-state-park

Cheaha State Park's Doug Ghee Accessible Trail is (in our humble opinion) the best of the accessible trails in Alabama thanks to the spectacular view from the observation platform at Bald Rock.  Built as a smooth boardwalk with no steep inclines or steps, the trail begins at a parking area near Bald Rock Lodge and ends at the overlook, widely considered one of the most beautiful vistas on the mountain.

 

Desoto State Park - Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail 

Photo Courtesy of Alapark.com

Photo Courtesy of Alapark.com

Mountainous Desoto State Park is nestled atop beautiful Lookout Mountain in scenic Northeast Alabama and accented by many rushing waterfalls and fragrant wildflowers that will simply take your breath away. Developed in the late 1930s, the hard-working and dedicated men of the CCC made many natural enhancements to the park that have withstood the test of time and will last for future generations. Come commune with Mother Nature as DeSoto State Park offers a family-friendly atmosphere that holds wonders for people of all ages
— http://www.alapark.com/desoto-state-park

Desoto State Park's Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail (previously known as Azalea Cascades Trail) features a 360 yard boardwalk that meanders through wooded slopes and forest floor. This trail is a must see for bird lovers – Kentucky and Hooded Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Yellow-throated Vireos all call this trail home.  The boardwalk ends with a 20' Octagonal deck over a pool formed by the Azalea Cascades, one of many waterfalls located within the park.

 

Gulf State Park - Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail 

Photo Courtesy of Gulfshorebeachdays.com

Photo Courtesy of Gulfshorebeachdays.com

Gulf State Park’s two miles of beaches greet you with plenty of white sun-kissed sand, surging surf, seagulls and sea shells, but there is more than sand and surf to sink your toes into. Inside Gulf State Park there is a championship golf course, new beach pavilion, rental cottages, tennis courts, camp sites, hiking trails, Zip Line, and a fishing pier that is 20-feet wide and extends 1,512 feet into the Gulf. This and much more make Gulf State Park the perfect in-state vacation or out-of-state adventure.
— http://www.alapark.com/gulf-state-park

Gulf State Park's Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a multi-use asphalt and boardwalk trail nestled along freshwater lakes and streams that winds through immaculate coastal forests. Less than a mile north of the Gulf of Mexico, the 7.5 miles of paved walkways offer three trailheads, accessible restrooms, a picnic pavilion, and a butterfly garden. Another big plus? the trail offers direct access to the City of Orange Beach.


Alaska

Chugach State Park - Bird Point to Girdwood Bike Path

Photo courtesy of Alaska.org

Photo courtesy of Alaska.org

Beyond the foothills at the edge of Alaska’s largest city is Chugach State Park, the fourth-largest state park in the United States. While Alaska has wilderness areas that are larger and more biologically pristine than Chugach, no other wildlife-rich habitat on Earth is so close to a major city. The park is known for optimal accessibility and activities for adventurers of all skill-levels. Within minutes of the park are the communities of Palmer, Eagle River, Chugiak, Indian, Bird, Girdwood, the village of Eklutna, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
— TravelAlaska.com

Take in the scenic beauty of the mountains and the Turnagain Arm from Chugach State Park's Bird Point to Girdwood Bike Path.  This six-mile, multi use pathway is paved and offers stunning views of land and sea.  Keep an eye out of Beluga whales a few hours before high tide - they come in towards shore to feed off salmon! 

 

Chugach State Park - Anchorage Overlook Trail 

Photo courtesy of hike-anchorage-alaska.com

Photo courtesy of hike-anchorage-alaska.com

Since Chugach State Park is widely recognized as containing the highest volume of accessible trails in Alaska, we want to acknowledge that by including a second entry. Anchorage Overlook Trail offers some of the greatest views of the area, all contained within a winding loop that allows visitors to take in the Alaska Range, Cook Inlet, Flattop Mountain, and Anchorage. The trail has its own sitting areas as well as a viewing deck at it's peak, perfect for enjoying a technicolor sunset. 

 

Kincaid Park - Tony Knowles Coastal Trail 

Photo courtesy of Alaska.org

Photo courtesy of Alaska.org

Kincaid Park is situated among 1,400 acres of rolling, forested hills and beautiful scenery…a spectacular view of Mt. Susitna across Cook Inlet; Fire Island to the Southwest; both Mt. Denali and Mt. Foraker to the North; and arguably, the best sunsets in Anchorage! Many species of wildlife roam free within the park.
— muni.org

Kinkaid Park's Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is one of the most beautiful coastal trails in the nation.  Enjoy eleven paved miles of scented forests and sweeping vistas as the trail gently winds along the coast.  Anchorage's most popular trail by far, this trail offers visitors the opportunity to see an abundance of wildlife as well as Mount McKinley, North America's highest peak.


Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park - Cape Royal Trail 

Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Grand Canyon National Park encompasses canyons, river tributaries, and surrounding grounds. The Grand Canyon is situated in Arizona’s northwestern quadrant. With five million visitors making the trip to the canyon each year, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. In addition, the park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
— NationalParks.org

The Grand Canyon's Cape Royal Trail is located on The Grand Canyon's less traveled North Rim. Named "Arizona's ultimate in scenic accessible trails" by Accessing Arizona, Cape Royal Trail is part asphalt, part gravel, with gorgeous views where you can roll out to the very edge in numerous locations.  At the trail's summation, Cape Royal Peak gives visitors a panoramic view of the Canyon, as well as the Colorado River at it's base, nearly a mile below. 

 

Roper Lake State Park - Roper Lake Trail

Photo Courtesy of Arizonaexperience.org

Photo Courtesy of Arizonaexperience.org

Replete with natural wonder, Roper Lake State Park is an obvious choice for your next camping vacation. Enjoy five miles of nature trails that wind through desert landscapes and lead to stunning mountain views. With natural hot springs, fishing piers, a swimming beach and opportunities for bird watching, Roper Lake State Park in Safford, Arizona is the perfect place to camp under the stars or in a comfortable camping cabin.
— VisitArizona.com

Roper Lake State Park is a hidden treasure that has accessible lakefront rental cabins, five miles of trails in the park and nearby Dankworth pond, an accessible fishing dock, and an easily reached beachfront.  Enjoy desert vegetation, excellent birdwatching, stupendous views of Mount Graham, and a natural hot spring which has a man made sitting pool where visitors can soak, relax, and enjoy. 

 

Dead Horse Ranch State Park - Canopy Trail 

Photo by Jason Shultz courtesy of Aziba.org

Photo by Jason Shultz courtesy of Aziba.org

A beautiful area with camping, canoeing, mountain biking and more, Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona, is a fun-filled destination. A peaceful lake holds catfish fit for dinner, while the surrounding forestry is home to deer, hawks and other indigenous wildlife.
— VisitArizona.com

Located by Cottonwood at 3,300' elevation, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a lush hideaway in the middle of the desert. Canopy Trail is a flat even trail that loops around the three small lagoons filled with a wide variety of fish.  Multiple steel peers dot its shores and extend into the water.  Lots of shade and picnic tables make for a relaxing, enjoyable journey. 

Did we miss an accessible trail that should be included? Let us know in the comment section below!

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