Editor's Note: This is the sixth 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, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa
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.
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge - Migrants Mile Trail
The Migrants Mile Trail trail has two loops, each about 1/2 mile in length. The inner loop is paved, and offers close views of freshwater marsh, a pond, prairie, and a woodlot. Visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife - in addition to the many migratory waterfowl the wildlife refuge is home to beaver, coyote, rabbits, deer, muskrat, gophers, racoon. squirrel and the eastern woodrat. Pro tip: the best wildlife viewing can be found on Wildlife Drive, a 5.15 mile loop with a gravel surface, easily navigated by Freedom Chair riders. Anyone who is not equipped for gravel can head to the Birdhouse Boulevard Nature Trail, a paved .2 mile trail.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve - Bottomland Nature Trail
The Bottomland Nature trail is a crushed limestone hardened trail that has two loops, one that is 0.5 and a second option that extends 0.75 mile. Visitors will experience a developing bottomland prairie restoration area, while gaining an understanding of its rarity as a natural plant community and its importance in the human history of the Flint Hills region. Other features of the trail include an information trail-head kiosk, five interpretive waysides, benches, and a comfort station. Pro tip: Visitors who are not using an all terrain wheelchair should plan to visit the trail during dry weather, as rain may affect the integrity of the trail's surface.
Shawnee Mission State Park - SMP Paved Trail
The SMP Paved Trail is a two mile loop that offers park visitors the opportunity to enjoy scenic views of the entire park including Shawnee Mission Lake, which extends for 150 acres. Travelers will also enjoy beautiful views of ponds, marshes, forests, and meadows along its lengths. Pro tip: Those looking for additional cardio can access an additional 11 miles of paved trail on the Mill Creek Streamway Trail, which is connected to the SMP paved trail at the west end of the park.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park - Overlook Trail
A level, paved 1/4 mile trail offers visitors of all mobility levels the opportunity to taking in the spectacular view from Pinnacle Overlook. With an elevation of 2,440 feet, this is undoubtedly the most visited - and awe inspiring - area within the park. Accessible restrooms are available near the overlook, and accessible drive-in campsites are available at the park's Wilderness Road Campground.
Jenny Wiley State Park - Dawkins Line Rail Trail
A great trail for a good cardio work out, the Dawkins Line Rail Trail is a paved trail that follows the old Dawkin Line railroad bed for 18 miles. Opened to the public since 2013, the trail has retained it's historical vibe thanks to the 24 trestles along it's lengths as well as the Gun Creek Tunnel, which is 662 feet long.
Paintsville Lake State Park - Kiwanis Walking Trail
The Kiwanis Walking Trail - which is 1.6 miles long and offers visitors gorgeous views of the lake and it's supported wildlife - is rated "easy" but it has not been officially rated "accessible", which means it may be a better option for riders with all terrain wheelchairs. However, Paintsville Lake State Park itself has done a wonderful job of making sure that all of the areas are accessible to visitors of every ability. This includes a scenic overlook of the Lake at the end of a short paved trail, the campgrounds, restrooms, parking and the camp's amphitheater.
Sabine National Wildlife Refuge - The Wetland Walkway
The Wetland Walkway is a 1.5 fully accessible boardwalk that brings visitors across a freshwater marsh, an observation tower with viewing scopes, five trail rest shelters with benches, and an accessible restroom. In this refuge, wildlife abounds: In addition to migratory waterfowl, keep your eyes peeled for large wading birds, muskrat, raccoon, marsh rabbit, and alligators. Pro tip: fishing and crabbing enthusiasts can enjoy opportunities all year round at several wheelchair accessible fishing piers.
Chemin A Haut State Park - Bobcat Trail
The Bobcat Trail is a 1.1. mile long hard surfaced trail that begins at the picnic area and brings visitors along the scenic high banks of the Bayou Bartholomew. Look closely for the opportunity to see over 115 species of fish who inhabit the Bayou, and fishermen would do well to remember that in order to preserve the delicate ecosystem - only shore fishing is allowed. Pro tip: ADA compliant cabins are available to visitors looking to stay overnight, and visitors with American the Beautiful Pass are also entitled to a 50% discount on camping fees.
South Toledo Bend State Park - Lakeview Nature Trail
The Lakeview Nature Trail is a 1/2 mile paved trail that provides views of the scenic reservoir that the park - one of Louisiana's newest - surrounds. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, as the area remains a popular nesting ground for our nation's symbol. Pro tip: If you choose to stay overnight in the accessible lodging, be sure to plan for a barbeque, as an accessible grill is also provided!
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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