Wheelchair Hiking for the Modern Adventurer

By Nerissa Dawn Cannon


Nerissa has been active for as long as she can remember, but her diagnosis of Spinal Arthritis and Fibromyalgia forced her to be more creative in her outdoor activities. She started her own Etsy store and pet training and walking business in her rural area of Colorado.

Okay, so you have ordered your GRIT Freedom Chair, it’s arrived, and you’ve put it together, now you're ready to hit the trail! How do you find appropriate trails to ride on? While the GRIT Freedom Chair helps you move beyond the pavement and get outdoors, it’s important to choose areas where you can be safe and have fun, so here are some hacks I’ve discovered to help me find the best areas to ride in!


Many nature areas and national parks have designated “accessible” hiking trails. However, these are typically merely paved trails. While the scenery can be pretty, these trails are scarce, so it’s important not to limit yourself to only those places that are designated “accessible.” Thanks to the GRIT Freedom Chair, you now have the opportunity to explore places otherwise deemed inaccessible for certain disabilities!


The GRIT Freedom Chair is often called a “mountain bike for your arms,” so it makes sense one would seek out mountain biking trails when wanting to hit the great outdoors. However, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind. “Regular” mountain bikes are narrow and are capable of handling “Single Track” trails with ease. The GRIT Freedom Chair, on the other hand, is wider. In order to discover trails that can safely accommodate your Freedom Chair, you must find “double track” trails! This isn’t too difficult to do. There are MANY apps and websites out there documenting mountain biking trails for just about every area on earth. If you look for the keyword “double track” you’ll be set!

Some trails have been thoroughly scouted and might say something such as “The majority of the trail is double track, with single track cutting through flat meadows.” This would most likely be perfectly fine in the GRIT Freedom Chair as you wouldn’t risk tipping down an incline in the narrower parts of the trail. You’ll just do a little off-roading on the sides!

You’ll want to keep in mind your skill level. Don’t push too hard, or too fast. After all, the point is to have fun! The easiest mountain biking trails are ranked as “green.” If there isn’t a specific color ranking (i.e. green, blue, black), then try to find out what the elevation change is. That can help you calculate the average slope percentage to help you decide whether or not you are ready to attempt a particular trail.


If you live near a ski resort, you might have some fun exploring options open to you! During the summer, many ski resorts still run their gondolas in order to uplift hikers and sight seers. They should have an accessible gondola that will accommodate the GRIT Freedom Chair! You can explore on top, then ride the gondola down, or, you can find a “green” ski run or a “Cat walk” to follow down to the bottom!

Cat walks are generally maintained wide and flat for maintenance vehicles, so it’s kind of perfect for the GRIT Freedom Chair! If you don’t want to pay for a lift ticket, and are feeling strong and adventurous, you can always follow the cat walk up! Most wind like switch backs, so it’s possible, but it’s quite a workout!


There are truly a TON of options for enjoying nature safely in your GRIT Freedom Chair! Talk to horse boarding facilities about where they trail ride and if it’s open to the public. See if there are Frisbee golf courses near you! Where I live, in Colorado, there are a couple that wind next to a river and through trees. I’ve seen some courses that are in large, open, beautifully landscaped city parks. You can even look up ATV Trails! Some are VERY rocky and could only be traversed with a rock crawler, but many are dirt or gravel. When all else fails, go out and TEST a trail! Get outside your comfort zone, grab a trail buddy and a helmet and TRY! You never know if you can do certain terrain until you try. Always be realistic about your strength and abilities, but don’t let that stop you from pushing yourself!

The basic guidelines to follow when looking for trails to adventure on are:

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The GRIT Freedom Chair is the most versatile chair on the market, designed from the ground up to handle any terrain. From trails to grass to snow, the Freedom Chair is built for you to push yourself. Born out of research at MIT, the Freedom Chair's patented easy-push levers reduce shoulder strain and put you in control of your mobility. Ready to hit the trails.  Learn more about the GRIT Freedom Chair at www.gogrit.us