Editor's Note: This is the third post in our ABCs of Accessible Trails series, which will detail the best accessible trails in State and National Parks across the country. Check our list for Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona here, and our list for Arkansas, Colorado, and California 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.
Appalachian National Trail - Falls Village Accessible Trail
This wide compact gravel pathway has been cleared of tree roots and other obstructions. Enjoy scenic river views, open fields, serene woodlands, and other natural highlights on your way to the world class rapids produced by the nearby power station. Pro tip: this trail is a great option for leaf peepers dying to check out New England's fall foliage.
Continental Watershed State Forest - Saugatuck Universal Access Trail
Thanks to the Wheels in the Woods Foundation, visitors of all abilities can enjoy a lovely view of the Saugatuck reservoir from a platform at the end of a 500 foot accessible trail. Built in 2004, this trail is open from sunrise to sunset. Pro tip: Fishing enthusiasts can also make use of Centennial's accessible fishing dock - permits for disabled veterans and seniors are free of charge.
Stratton Brook State Park - Completely Wheelchair Accessible
We couldn't make a guide to accessible trails in Connecticut without including Stratton Brook State Park. It's undeniably refreshing to find a park that is completely wheelchair accessible, as opposed to offering one or two accessible trail options. Visitors of every ability can enjoy everything the park has to offer, including a beach front, accessible hiking, fishing, swimming, and picnicking options.
Alapocas Run State Park - Northern Delaware Greenway Trail
While this shared-use trail spans northern New Castle County with portions traversing several state and county parks, the portion in Alapocas Run State Park has a wide paved surface. Experience Piedmont forests and streams, open spaces, historic features, and recreation areas. Connecting pathways lead from Rockland Road to West Park Drive, Augustine Cut-off to West Park Drive, and Rockford Road to Hill Road.
Delaware Seashore State Park - Prickly Pear Trail
The Prickly Pear trail is a 3.5 mile loop made of crushed stone and packed earth that explores meadows, forests, and a beautiful view of the Indian River Bay. Thanks to it's width of 8 feet, hikers, bikers, wheelchair users, and horseback riders can share its lengths, while two connector trails provide community access at several locations.
Holts Landing State Park - Seahorse Trail
The Seahorse Trail is an accessible 1.2 mile loop made of packed earth that provides access to the western portion of the park. Visitors can meander along. forest's edge, open meadow, and dense forest. Birding enthusiasts may catch a glimpse of the many large birds such as hawks, herons, and osprey that frequent the area. Pro tip: thanks to several old pits that have evolved into small ponds - valuable freshwater habitat - quiet sharp eyed hikers can spot an abundance of native flora and fauna including deer, raccoons, opossums, muskrats, and foxes.
Everglades National Park - Anhinga Trail
The Anhinga Trail offers visitors of all abilities the opportunity to see abundant wildlife from the comfort of a paved walkway and boardwalk over Taylor Slough freshwater sawgrass marsh. Extending for about 0.4 miles, potential wildlife sightings include alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, and egrets among others, making this one of the most popular trails in Everglades National Park. Fun fact: in 2003, tourists witnessed a fight between an alligator and a burmese python that went on for 24 hours!
Blue Spring State Park - Boardwalk at Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is well known for being the best place in Florida to see manatees in the wild. Upwards of 200 friendly sea cows crowd the spring during winter, where they breed and nurse the next generation. The park's accessible boardwalk, considered to be the best place to watch them, leads visitors on a self-guided tour through a lush hammock to Blue Spring, Pro tip: The parks riverside ecotours are also fully accessible to visitors of varying mobility.
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park - Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
The Gainsville-Hawthorne State Trail is a ten foot wide paved trail with a 16.5 mile expanse. Regular trailheads and benches can be found along the way to Paynes Prairie Overlook within the Preserve, which is comprised of a rich landscape of prairie, marsh, and open water. Visitors can enjoy several trailside overlooks which offer views of the prairie, home to bison, wild horses, and an abundance of alligators.
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 Georgia, Hawaii & Idaho!
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