Editor's Note: This is the fifth post in our ABCs of Accessible Trails series, which details the best accessible trails in State and National Parks across the country. Take a look at our previous posts for more: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho
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.
Beall Woods State Park - Tulip Tree Trail
The Tulip Tree Trail's paved surface is a chipped, but perfectly serviceable, 1.5 mile accessible trail for those looking to enjoy the scenic upland forestry. Visitors can grab one of several self-guided brochures at the park's visitor center for information on tree identification and the beautiful spring wildflowers that grow along the trail.
Goose Lake Prairie - Prairie View Trail
Just as the name suggests, Prairie View Trail offers a visitors a fantastic view of the beautiful grassy terrain. Depending on the route, travelers can enjoy a 3.5 mile or 1 mile trail through the park, the shorter of which boasts a hard packed accessible surface good for pushrim riders, while the longer may be more suited to all terrain wheelchairs like the Freedom Chair. Regardless of the path you choose, rest assured that wildlife sightings are abundant, and the trail's inhabitants include deer, coyote, red fox, muskrat, beaver, and badger, among others.
Giant City State Park - Post Oak Trail
The Post Oak Trail is 1/3 of a mile long, and its paved surface makes it universally accessible for every level of ability. Wind along the top of the beautiful sandstone cliffs and spot wildlife in the small pond en route. Pro Tip: more adventurous riders with all terrain wheelchairs should also check out Giant City Nature Trail, a mulched trail with wooden walkways that includes some uphill portions.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore - Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk
The newest area of the national lakeshore, the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, is entirely accessible, allowing visitors of all abilities to access the lakefront and beach as well as a public pavilion, the restored 900 foot breakwater, and an accessible fishing pier. Scenic views along Lake Michigan can be enjoyed in every season, even wintertime when a shelf ice forms along the beach's edge.
Yellowwood State Forest - Jackson Creek Trail
Yellowwood State Forest's Jackson Creek Trail is a 1.5 mile hard packed dirt trail that offers visitors the opportunity to adventure through a scenic and ethereal wood. Enjoy a variety of terrain and forest types and lakeside views along the way. Information is available for those interested in a self-guided interpretive tour.
Fort Harrison State Park - Harrison Trace Trail
Harrison Trace Trail is a 2.5 mile paved trail that offers easy access to Duck Pond. Beginning at the Delaware Lake Picnic Area the trail follows the rolling upland above fall creek, with an abundance of trees and wildflowers lining the path. Keep in mind that though the trail is paved, it is not flat, so wheelchair riders should prepare for more exertion than the "easy" rating denotes. Pro Tip: This is a great trail for Freedom Chair riders to utilize their levers' hill hold feature.
Lamson Woods State Preserve - Fairfield Loop Trail
The Fairfield Loop Trail extends for 16 miles and connects two major preserves. While there are about 2.5 miles of pavement, the majority of the trail is made of crushed stone, so it's a great option for adventurers with Freedom Chairs or other all terrain wheelchairs who are looking to challenge themselves. Those who take on the challenge will be rewarded with scenic woodlands, meadows, and prairie.
Lake Manawa State Park - Lake Manawa Trail
Lake Manawa Trail's paved section will see visitors loop west around the lake, and includes a lovely section on a short bridge over Indian creek. This section is great for beginners and riders of traditional push rim wheelchairs and provides lovely scenery. Pro Tip: Freedom Chair riders and those with other all terrain wheelchairs will have the opportunity to explore eight additional miles of unpaved mountain biking trails.
Big Creek State Park - Neal Smith Trail
The Neal Smith Trail is a paved 26 mile asphalt path that runs through a portion of Des Moines itself, then follows the Des Moines River for most of its route, skirts massive Saylorville Lake and finds its conclusion at the beach at Big Creek Lake. Whilst enjoying the scenic views, visitors should keep their eyes peeled for wildlife, which is abundant, including beaver, muskrat and deer. Pro tip: stop off at the Saylorville Lake Visitor Center of NW Horseshoe Road to take a break and explore the outdoor butterfly garden.
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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. Learn more about the GRIT Freedom Chair at www.gogrit.us