The ABCs of Accessible Trails: Arkansas, California, Colorado

Editor's Note: This is the second post in our ABCs of Accessible Trails series, which will detail the best accessible trails in State and National Parks across the country.  Check out our first post here. 

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.

Arkansas

Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge - Upland Trail

Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge annually attracts about 455,000 visits from hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others. The refuge lies mostly in the floodplain of the White River, near where it meets the mighty Mississippi River. Long and narrow and varying from a quarter mile to ten miles wide and approximately sixty miles long, the refuge is one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi River Valley. Its fertile forests and some three hundred lakes are interlaced with streams, sloughs, and bayous. The result is a haven for a myriad of native wildlife and migratory birds.
— nps.gov

A visit to the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge is a learning experience that can't be missed: stop in at the 10,000 sq foot visitors center featuring an interpretive exhibit hall that's home to a 28 foot tall replica of a bald cypress tree whose base is surrounded by a underwater diorama.  After learning about the ecological history of the area, set out on the Upland Trail to enjoy a one-mile paved loop with interpretive panels and benches dotting it's lengths.  

 

Crowley's Ridge State Park - Lake Ponder Trail

Photo courtesy of StateParks.com

Photo courtesy of StateParks.com

Rising in some places two hundred feet above the delta region of northeastern Arkansas is a narrow strip of gently rolling hills known as Crowley’s Ridge. Two hundred and ten miles in length and situated between Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Helena, Arkansas, this unique geological feature is one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas within the United States.
— ArkansasStateParks.com

This paved half mile trail allows visitors to peep a marshy shoreline featuring unique flora and exotic birds thanks to rustic-style boardwalk and stone overlooks along the way.  Natural springs flow into the lake year round, and multiple Civilian Conservation Corps-built structures, which can seen along the way, are highlighted by en-route exhibits outlining the park's rich history. 

 

Pinnacle Mountain State Park - Arkansas Trail 

Photo courtesy of arkokhiker.org/

Photo courtesy of arkokhiker.org/

Pinnacle Mountain is a day-use park dedicated to environmental education, outdoor recreation, and preservation. Located just west of Little Rock, this natural environment of 2,356 acres was set aside in 1977 as Arkansas’s first state park adjoining a major metropolitan area. The park features a diversity of natural habitat, from high upland peaks to bottomlands along the Big Maumelle River and Little Maumelle River, for park visitors to experience.
— arkansasstateparks.com

The Arkansas Trail is a paved trail located near the center of the park within the Arkansas Arboretum, an 80-acre site with native Flora from each of Arkansas' six natural divisions. Not just a visit, but an educational experience - the Arkansas trail is dedicated to helping citizens understand the lush variety of Arkansas trees and forests and includes interpretive signs with recorded messages located around the trail for educational purposes.

Bonus trails

Arkansas has done a wonderful job putting together a detailed information sheet about the accessibility of each State Park.  Check it out here.

 

California

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park - Simpson-Reed Trail

Photo courtesy of RedwoodHikes.com

Photo courtesy of RedwoodHikes.com

Bright, open, and lush, Jed Smith’s redwood groves are the most scenic in existence. There’s an unusual amount of variety in the color and texture of the trees, in the size of the trees, and even in the understory vegetation, making the woods an interesting place to hike. The park also has some trees of truly stupendous size: perhaps not quite as tall as the redwoods to the south, but bigger in diameter.
— redwoodhikes.com

The Simpson-Reed Trail is a 1-mile, level, barrier free trail through an ancient forest. Immense 1,000-year-old redwoods tower overhead, creating a canopy atop a mixture of hardwood trees, shrubs, and ferns. Enjoy the lush stream corridor where fallen trees within the water have created staircases and pools that are home to a wide variety of fish and insects. Fallen giants support new life on the forest floor as hemlock trees, huckleberries, and ferns sprout among their decaying trunks and branches, and the damp shade is the perfect climate for red-legged frogs, rough-skinned newts, and other amphibians.

 

Año Nuevo State Park - Boardwalk Trail 

Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal, and the interpretive program has attracted increasing interest every winter for the past 19 years. People who hope to see the seals during the winter breeding season are urged to get their reservations early. The males battle for mates on the beaches and the females give birth to their pups on the dunes.
— everytrail.com

On Saturday and Sunday during breeding season, Año Nuevo State Park provides a wheelchair accessible van to transport visitors to a staging area where an accessible boardwalk leads to the point.   The boardwalk trail is a quick 0.27 mile jaunt along the beach over dunes and coastal scrub that offers users a prime view of the Northern Elephant Seal in its natural habitat. 

 

Crystal Cove State Park - Bluff Top Multi-Use Trail

Crystal Cove State Park’s rolling surf, wide sandy beaches, tide pools, gently sloping hills, and deeply wooded canyons and ridges provide a delightful contrast to its urban surroundings. Located off busy Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove is one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore.
— everytrail.com

A visit to Crystal Cove State Park's 3 mile Bluff Top trail allows visitors to traverses through coastal scrub 80 feet above the ocean, and as you can imagine, the view is tremendous.  Adventurers seeking slightly rough terrain can start at the Historic district, where the trail is a little bumpy, while those who want a smooth ride can start at Reef Point where the path is paved. Braving the hilly terrain will be well worth the effort, rewarding visitors with unobstructed epic views and seasonal opportunities for whale watching.  After hitting the trail, head to Pelican Point Boardwalk which leads through a restored botanical area to an ocean overlook.

 

Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park - Sprague Lake Trail 

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top!
— NPS.gov

Sprague Lake Trail is a hard packed gravel path that offers breathtaking scenery of the continental divide.  Around 9/10 of a mile long, this virtually flat trail includes several benches along the way, perfect for enjoying panoramic views that include Half Mountain, Thatchtop Mountain, Taylor Peak, Otis Peak, Hallett Peak, Flattop Mountain and Notchtop Mountain.  Insider tip: early birds who hike Sprague Lake Trail in the morning will be rewarded with so-gorgeous-they-look-fake photos of the mountains reflecting off the 13-acre lake.

 

Eldorado State Park - Fowler Trail

55035-eldorado-canyon-park.jpg
Eldorado Canyon is a hidden treasure right in Boulder’s backyard! Whether it’s hiking amidst the towering sandstone cliffs, picnicking along scenic South Boulder Creek or climbing Eldo’s sheer golden walls, Eldorado Canyon State Park truly has something for everyone! Discover this hidden jewel and take home memories that will last a lifetime.
— cpw.state.co.us

 Fowler Trail is a gem of a trail that offers visitors spectacular views of Eldorado Canyon.  The Eastern half of the trail is a self-guided nature walk with opportunities to see wildlife and gap at the tiny rock climbers scaling the Canyon's nearly vertical sandstone walls, remains of an ancient mountain range.  Insider tip: BYOB - bring your own binoculars - as the telescopes along the way are too high for wheelchair users to use effectively. 

 

Ridgway State Park - Enchanted Mesa Trail

Mountain scenery mingles with magnificent campgrounds at Ridgway State Park. Modern, universally-accessible recreation areas and the five-mile long reservoir make memorable days and nights.
— cpw.state.co.us

Enchanted Mesa Trail is the longest and most physically challenging accessible trail in Ridgway State Park, but the juice is worth the squeeze: it's also the most beautiful.  Follow the 2.5 mile trail along the western side of Enchanted Mesa, a gorgeous flattop pasture, and keep your eyes peeled for wild Mule Deer and Elk.  Continue onward and marvel at views of the Ridgway Reservoir, and the Sneffels and Cimarron ranges of the San Juan Mountains.  In Spring, the desert vegetation turns lush as cactus and yuccas bloom along its lengths.

 

Did we miss an accessible trail that should be included? Let us know in the comment section below and stay tuned for our next installment featuring Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida!  

 

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