The ABCs of Accessible Trails: Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho

Editor's Note: This is the fourth post in our ABCs of Accessible Trails series, which details the best accessible trails in State and National Parks across the country.  Check our list for Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona here, Arkansas, Colorado, and California here and Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida 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.


Georgia

Amicalola Falls State Park - West Ridge Falls Access Trail

Spectacular scenery and hiking trails make this one of Georgia’s most popular state parks. At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast. Visitors have choices on how to best view the tumbling waters, ranging from an accessible pathway to a challenging trail with staircases.
— gastateparks.org/AmicalolaFalls

Visitors of the West Ridge Falls Access Trails at Amicalola Falls State Park can enjoy one of the best views of the falls along this gently sloping trail.  With a flat surface made of recycled-tires, this is a great trail for riders of all ability levels. 

 

Skidaway Island State Park - Big Ferry Trail 

Photo courtesy of AtlantaTrails.com

Photo courtesy of AtlantaTrails.com

Located near historic Savannah, this park borders Skidaway narrows, a part of Georgia’s intracoastal waterway. Trails wind through maritime forest and past salt marsh, leading to a boardwalk and observation tower. Visitors can watch for deer, fiddler crabs, raccoon, egrets and other wildlife.
— gastateparks.org/skidawayisland

Big Ferry Trail at Skidaway Island State Park offers slightly varying - but mostly level - terrain, so it's a good option for riders who are looking for a moderate challenge, which makes it an especially well suited trail for GRIT Freedom Chair riders!  This nearly-level trail clocks in at 3 miles through the park's Northern expanse and offers some of the park's most picturesque views of both marsh and forest. Pro Tip: If you're looking for a trail with a paved surface, try the 1 mile Sandpiper Trail loop instead!

 

Tallulah Gorge State Park - Shortline Trail

Photo courtesy of AtlantaTrails.com

Photo courtesy of AtlantaTrails.com

One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a permit to hike to the gorge floor (100 per day, not available during water releases). A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls.
— gastateparks.org/tallulahgorge

The Shortline Trail, otherwise known as the Tallulah Falls Rail-Trail is a 1.7 mile paved pathway that rounds through the beautiful southern Appalachian Forest. Travelers will have the opportunity to cross the Tallulah River over a small suspension bridge and take in gorgeous views of the gorge and its spectacular waterfalls. 

 

Hawaii

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park - Earthquake Trail 

 Iki crater and Kilauea caldera - Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii, 31.10.2013
Well-known for its volcanic significance, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is also one of the most fascinating biologic landscapes in the world. Located more than 2,000 miles from the nearest continental land mass, the Hawaiian Archipelago is the most geographically isolated group of islands on Earth... the Park protects a wide diversity of ecosystems and habitat for numerous native Hawaiian species such as carnivorous caterpillars, happy face spiders and colorful Hawaiian honeycreepers.
— NPS.gov

The Earthquake Trail at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park got its name when a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in 1983 caused enough damage to require a paved road to be closed to vehicles. The one mile trail begins across the street from the Kilauea Visitor Center and leads to the Waldron Ledge Overlook, which gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy a panoramic view of the Kilauea Caldera and Halema`uma`u Crater.

 

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge - Kealia Coastal Boardwalk

Established in 1992, Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge encompasses approximately 700 acres and is one of the few natural wetlands remaining in the Hawaiian Islands. Located along the south-central coast of the island of Maui, between the towns of Kīhei and Mā‘alaea, it is a natural basin for a 56-square mile watershed from the West Maui Mountains.
— fws.gov/refuge

This 2,200-foot elevated wooden boardwalk by Maʻalaea Bay offers visitors access of 2000+ feet of wetlands, with self-guided interpretive exhibits along the way featuring information about the native and visiting birds that can be found there.  Pro tip: in winter visitors have the opportunity to spot humpback whales along the way.

 

 

Lydgate State Park - Ke Ala Hele Makalae

Lydgate Beach Park is located on the East side of Kauai adjacent to the Wailua River. The two rock enclosed ponds create a safe haven from the open ocean waves, while still allowing the small reef fish to move into the pond through the crevices. This spot will almost guarantee that you will see a variety of tropical fish. The protected calm waters, posted lifeguard and variety of fish make this the perfect beginner beach for snorkeling.
— kauai.com/lydgate-beach

Ke Ala Hele Makalae is Hawaiian for "The Path that Goes by the Coast," and perfectly describes this beautiful multi-use path.  Currently clocking in at 7 paved miles, this path follows the coast from Nawiliwili to Anahola on the island of Kauai (also known as the "Garden Isle"). This gorgeous trail also offers visitors access to recreation areas and beautiful beaches along the island's eastern shoreline. 

 

Idaho

Idaho Panhandle National Forest - Mineral Point Trail

From the shores of big lakes to the banks of winding rivers, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests create a tapestry of land and water in the handle of North Idaho. The Forest has been and continues to be the lifeline for local communities. Silver, gold and large timber drew settlers to the area. Remnant roads that once led to work now lead to play, and treasures sought are now recreational - water-based activities, winter uses and the traditional hiking, hunting, fishing and gathering.
— fs.usda.gov

The Mineral Point Trail at Idaho Panhandle National Forest is another great option for riders seeking varied terrain, in other words, great for Freedom Chair riders! Widely acknowledged as one of the most beautiful trails on the Sandpoint River District, this trail offers visitors gentle slopes, abundant wildflowers, and excellent views. Pro Tip: scope out the terrain ahead of time by taking a virtual tour of the trail.

 

Harriman State Park - John Muir Trail 

Harriman State Park lies within a 16,000-acre wildlife refuge in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Known for its beautiful scenery and wildlife, Harriman State Park offers 22-miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails that slink through meadows, meander along riverbanks and through lush evergreen forests. Some of the best fly fishing waters in the nation flow through 8 miles of Harriman State Park, known by anglers the world over as “the Ranch.” Moose, elk and Trumpeter swans, the world’s largest waterfowl species, are a common sight at Harriman.
— parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/harriman

The John Muir Trail, whose namesake documented his ten day stay in the area 102 years ago, is a paved trail that was completed in 2013 and extends three quarters of a mile. Fishing enthusiasts rejoice: the trail includes a fully accessible fishing point - one of two within the park, while eco-friendly visitors can appreciate the park's use of Road Oyl - a pine resin that binds packed gravel together. 

 

Heyburn State Park - Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes

Comprised of about 5,744 acres of land and 2,332 acres of water, Heyburn State Park is a paddler and peddler paradise. Miles of trails await you whether you are a bike rider, horse rider or hiker. Bring your own boat or rent a kayak, canoe or pedal boat and enjoy three lakes - Chatcolet, Benewah and Hidden Lakes or the shadowy St. Joe River, which meanders along the eastern boundary of the park. The Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes, one of the most popular biking trails in the western US, runs directly through the park.
— parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/heyburn

The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a spectacular tour that was named one of the 25 top trails in the nation in 2012 by the Rails to Trails Conservancy. The 72 mile paved trail crosses 19 trailheads and skirts the beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alenes.  Pro tip: Scope out the scene ahead of time with another virtual tour, and be sure to bring a water bottle, as there is not  much potable water available along the trail. 

 

Did we miss an accessible trail that should be included? Let us know in the comment section below and sign up below to get our next installment featuring Illinois, Indiana, & Iowa straight to your inbox!

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