Editor's Note: This is the fourteenth 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, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississipi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
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.
Congaree National Park
"Astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree National Park, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem and support the growth of national and state champion trees."
Congaree National Park features a 2.4 mile Boardwalk Loop trail that winds through a section of the old-growth bottomland forest
Cheraw State Park
"Cheraw State Park contains an extensive longleaf pine forest that supports red-cockaded woodpeckers and significant wetlands with stands of Atlantic white cedar trees."
Cheraw State Park offers several options for the outdoor enthusiast with accessibility needs! The Cheraw Nature Trail, Turkey Oak Trail, and Boardwalk Trail allows visitors to get close to nature for a memorable visit.
Edisto State Park
"Edisto Beach State Park is a part of the ACE Basin buffer zone around the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). The ACE Basin boundaries include the watersheds of the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers. The park also offers access to the Atlantic Ocean and beach. It also provides access to the saltwater marsh and creeks . . . The park is a nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles. Other wildlife includes: white-tailed deer, raccoon and opossum."
From the staff at Edisto Beach: “All of our trails, except for the Forest Loop Trail, were designed to be ADA-Accessible. Our trails were built with a nice, hard packed sand that makes for easy walking or movement in a wheelchair. The trails are also very flat and feature only minimal gains in elevation. They are also very wide and easy to navigate due to the placement of trail markers at each intersection. The bridges over Scott Creek were also designed to accommodate the passage of wheelchairs, so you should have no problems with them.”
Badlands National Park
"The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today."
In addition to the many accessible facilities, Badlands National Park offers accessible hiking trails for visitors with physical challenges. The Fossil Exhibit and Window Trails are accessible boardwalks, as well as the first section of the Door and Cliff Shelf Trails.
Wind Cave National Park
"Bison, elk, and other wildlife roam the rolling prairie grasslands and forested hillsides of one of America's oldest national parks. Below the remnant island of intact prairie sits Wind Cave, one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this maze of passages is home to boxwork, a unique formation rarely found elsewhere."
Several areas of Wind Cave are accessible to those with limited physical mobility. They do recommend you contact the park directly for current conditions.
Custer State Park
"The clear mountain waters are inviting, and the open ranges are waiting to be discovered. Bring your family to Custer State Park, and let yourself run wild. Custer State Park in the Black Hills encompasses 71,000 acres of spectacular terrain and an abundance of wildlife. Within the park, you'll discover a world of adventure!"
In Custer State Park, the Spur Trail offers a 3.2-mile paved connection between South Dakota's 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail and Custer State Park, home to bison, coyotes, and prairie dogs in the beautiful Black Hills.
Cove Lake State Park
"Cove Lake’s 717 acres are situated in a beautiful mountain valley on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau. Scenic nature trails lead through a diversity of wetlands and woodlands offering wildlife viewing for the nature enthusiast."
Cove Lake State Park features a 3.5 mile paved bike path! It meanders its way through the park and overlooks the lake.
Long Hunter State Park
"The 2,600 acres which make up this area became a state park in 1974 . . . Long Hunter State Park offers a variety of recreational activities . . . The more than 20 miles of hiking trails provide a variety of terrain and habitats and range from pleasant strolls to longer jaunts for the more adventurous."
The Couchville Lake Trail in Long Hunter State Park is a 2.0 mile paved trail that encircles 110-acre Couchville Lake. It's one of their more popular trails due to it's beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife.
Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Natural Area
"The 960-acre Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Natural area is located in East Nashville adjacent to Shelby Park and is one of five Natural Area Parks within Metro Parks. With approximately three miles of Cumberland River frontage, this area features bottomland hardwood forests, open fields, wetlands, and streams, providing excellent habitat for birds, amphibians, deer and more."
"The greenway offers over 5 miles of paved ADA accessible trail for hiking, biking, running, skating and wildlife watching and over 5 miles of primitive trails for more passive activities of walking, running and exploring nature."