The ABCs of Accessible Trails: Connecticut, Delaware, & Florida

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.


Connecticut

Appalachian National Trail - Falls Village Accessible Trail 

Photo courtesy of www.appalachiantrail.org

Photo courtesy of www.appalachiantrail.org

Falls Village is a favorite stop for those making the long trek over the Appalachian Trail. The river views, open fields, rolling hills, and colonial setting make for some of the nicest scenery along the A.T. The white hash marks of the A.T. abound here and you can easily find a good jumping off point for serious hiking, day hikes, or small jaunts into the woods without having to journey too far from your car.
— berkshirehiking.com

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

Photo courtesy of westonhistoricalsociety.org

Photo courtesy of westonhistoricalsociety.org

The 15,300 acres of Centennial Watershed State Forest offer diverse opportunities for hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and birding...The name “Centennial Watershed” was chosen to honor the 100-year anniversary of Connecticut’s State Forest System and to recognize that one of the main purposes of the land is to protect drinking water supplies.
— ct.gov/deep

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 

Stratton Brook is a completely wheelchair accessible park offering swimming, picnicking and interpretive programs in a beautifully wooded setting ... originally called Massacoe State Forest [Stratton Brook State Park] was acquired to demonstrate forest fire control adjacent to railroads. The railroad tracks have been replaced by an impressive bike trail shaded by white pines and traveling over scenic brooks. In 1996, this park became Connecticut’s first state park that is completely accessible by wheelchair.
— ct.gov/deep

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. 

 

Delaware

Alapocas Run State Park - Northern Delaware Greenway Trail 

It’s hard to imagine a lush getaway, situated in the heart of Wilmington, near transportation and major roadways. But, once you discover it, you will return to this park again and again.
The innovative Can-Do Playground, the first Boundless Playground™ in Delaware gives children of all abilities a place to play together. Trails through fields and forest will take you to the rock-climbing area, nestled in one of the area’s most serene spots.
— destateparks.com

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 

Water, water everywhere describes Delaware Seashore State Park. Bounded on the east by the mighty Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay, the 2825-acre park is a beach-goer’s delight. Throughout history, the forces of wind and water have kept this barrier island largely inaccessible, due to the frequent natural changes of the inlet channel between the bays and the sea. Transportation along this narrow stretch of land was difficult until the Federal government completed construction of two large steel and stone jetties in 1939, stabilizing the Indian River Inlet.
— destateparks.com

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 

Photo courtesy of alltrails.com

Photo courtesy of alltrails.com

Holts Landing is an undiscovered facet of the Diamond State’s park system. The 203-acre area contains a variety of beautiful landscapes, from bay shore beach to grassy fields and hardwood forests. Historically, the shores of the inland bays were home to native Americans, who harvested seafood and hunted in the surrounding marshes and forests. After the European settlers arrived, agriculture developed slowly around the “little bays.”
— destateparks.com

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.

 

Florida

Everglades National Park - Anhinga Trail 

The one and only Everglades has many adventures to offer. Take a short walk on the Anhinga Trail to spot abundant wildlife — turtles, herons and alligators! Climb atop Shark Valley’s 65-foot observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the glades. Glide over Florida Bay by tour boat or kayak for a chance to glimpse a crocodile, manatee, or dolphin. Watch as the sun sets over Flamingo, the southernmost point in mainland Florida. Explore the pinelands by bike, paddle amongst the mangroves on Nine-Mile Pond, or tour the historic Nike Hercules missile base. Join a ranger on a slough slog deep into the heart of a cypress dome. Find solitude on your own on a week-long canoe trip, camping along the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway. a safe and enjoyable visit to the Everglades.
— nps.gov

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

Photo courtesy of Floridahikes.com

Photo courtesy of Floridahikes.com

Blue Spring State Park covers more than 2,600 acres, including the largest spring on the St. John’s River. Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. During manatee season, which approximately runs from mid-November through March, several hundred manatee can be viewed atop the spring’s overlooks. The spring and spring run are closed to all water activity while manatees are present during this time. Swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced.
— floridastateparks.org

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

Photo courtesy of prairiefriends.org

Photo courtesy of prairiefriends.org

More than 20 distinct biological communities provide a rich array of habitats for wildlife and livestock, including alligators, bison, horses and more than 270 species of birds. Exhibits and an audio-visual program at the visitor center explain the area´s natural and cultural history. A 50-foot-high observation tower near the visitor center provides a panoramic view of the preserve. Eight trails provide opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling, including the 16 mile long, paved Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail.
— Floridastateparks.org

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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