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!
Cheaha State Park - Doug Ghee Accessible Trail
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
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
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.
Chugach State Park - Bird Point to Girdwood Bike Path
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
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
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.
Grand Canyon National Park - Cape Royal Trail
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
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
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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