ABCs of Accessible Trails: Virginia, Washington, West Virginia

Editor's Note: This is the sixteenth 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, ArizonaArkansas, Colorado, CaliforniaConnecticut, Delaware, FloridaGeorgia, Hawaii, IdahoIllinois, Indiana, Iowa Kansas, Kentucky, and LouisianaMichigan, Minnesota, MississipiMissouri, Montana, NebraskaNevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North CarolinaNorth Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma,, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont

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.


Virginia

Shenandoah National Park

"Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is your escape to recreation and re-creation. Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, or picnic with the family. 200,000 acres of protected lands are haven to deer, songbirds, the night sky…and you."
-https://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm

Shenandoah National Park features several activities for those with accessibility needs. This includes the 1.3 mile Limberlost Trail. The Limberlost Trail passes through forest and a stand of mountain laurel--stunningly beautiful when in blooms in June--and across a boardwalk and bridge.

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

"The George Washington National Forest in west central Virginia and the Jefferson National Forest in southwest Virginia were administratively combined in 1995 to form the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.  The two national forests contain nearly 1.8 million acres; one of the largest blocks of public land in the eastern United States."
-https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/gwj/about-forest

Due to it's extensive size, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests include a wide variety of trails to suit just about any ability level. More information specific to which area you wish to visit can be found HERE.

Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge

"Eighteen miles south of Washington D.C., on the banks of the Potomac River, lies a peninsula known as Mason Neck . . . The refuge provides wildlife a relatively remote area of upland forests and freshwater marshes extending into the Potomac River. Refuge habitats host over 211 bird species, more than 200 plant species, 31 mammal species, and 40 species of reptiles and amphibians. The refuge is home to Great Marsh, a 207 acre tidal freshwater marsh, and one of Virginia’s largest breeding great blue heron colonies. Common species observed include bald eagle, wood thrush, white-tailed deer, groundhog, and wood duck."
-https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Mason_Neck/about.html

The High Point Trail and Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. Great Marsh Trail are fully accessible to visitors of all abilities. These trails allow visitors to observe abundant wildlife and enjoy full views of the marsh.


Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

"Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits."
-https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

Mount Rainier National Park boasts a wide range of accessible campsites and trails throughout their area. 

North Cascades National Park

"Less than three hours from Seattle, an alpine landscape beckons. Discover communities of life adapted to moisture in the west and recurring fire in the east. Explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers. Listen to cascading waters in forested valleys. Witness a landscape sensitive to the Earth's changing climate. Help steward the ecological heart of the Cascades."
-https://www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm

On their website, North Cascades National Park provides a detailed list of their accessible facilities and trails. Have a look HERE.

Olympic National Park

"With its incredible range of precipitation and elevation, diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park. Encompassing nearly a million acres, the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline. Come explore!"
-https://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm

In their accessibility guide, "A Park for Everyone," Olympic National Park highlights in detail their accessible trails and features. Browse this guide to help plan a memorable trip!


West Virginia

Brooke Pioneer Trail

"The road is often shielded from view by brush likely there since the days of the railroad. Looking to the west, trail users are treated to stunning vistas of the powerful Ohio River and the dramatic climbs and drops of the hills in Ohio just beyond."
-http://wvrailtrails.org/rail-trail/brooke-pioneer-rail-trail/

"The Brooke Pioneer Trail follows the east bank of the Ohio River between Wellsburg and the Brooke–Ohio County line at Short Creek . . . Both trails are paved and provide a total of 18 miles of scenic hiking or biking along the river between the two cities they connect . . . "
-https://www.traillink.com/trail/brooke-pioneer-trail/

Cheat Lake Trail

"The area was once home to West Penn Beach, a cluster of vacation cottages available for rent by company employees in the 1920s. While the rental properties are no more, the original appeal of dense woodlands and scenic lake views remains."
-https://www.traillink.com/trail/cheat-lake-trail/

"The Cheat Lake Trail courses through this landscape on a former rail corridor, offering ample opportunities to view local flora and fauna. Perhaps the best spot is at the trail’s southern end near Greystone, where a nature viewing area is dedicated for this purpose. Farther north, a fishing platform, boat dock, playground and picnic tables can be found in the Cheat Lake Trail’s adjacent park"
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-https://www.traillink.com/trail/cheat-lake-trail/

Deckers Creek Trail

"The Deckers Creek Trail is the gem of the system . . . it climbs out of the Monongahela River valley and enters a rural landscape distinguished by hemlock, rhododendron and a smattering of residences . . . Because of the steady grade, the trail passes a series of dramatic rapids and waterfalls, while the creek noisily rushes headlong toward the Monongahela."
-https://www.traillink.com/trail/deckers-creek-trail/

"The most memorable feature of the surrounding landscape is Deckers Creek itself . . . As the trail approaches its endpoint near Reedsville, the grade flattens and the woods give way to wetland areas that feature cattails and red-winged blackbirds."
-https://www.traillink.com/trail/deckers-creek-trail/