Accessible Trails on the West Coast

by: Jenny Schmitz

DSC_0210.JPG

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is reprinted with permission from the author from Wheelchair Wandering. Jenny lives in Seattle because of its unique offering of mountains, water, culture, and cool weather. She spends as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors. Her passion is travel, which has become a multi-adventure experience since her MS required a transition into a wheelchair.


Once again,  I've compiled a list of wheelchair-accessible hikes, based upon the hikes I've done in the past year.  At the bottom, I copied some links to other wheelchair hiking resources.  Although this post was done mainly for remembrance, posterity, and self-edification,  I hope that the information will help other wheelchair hikers.

The main difference between this list and that of last year is the geographic scope.  Whereas last years's list recounted trails in Washington State, this year's list includes trails in all West Coast states.  Once again, my caveat (and this time, even more true): Keep in mind that the creation of this list actually came long after many of the hikes, and that I have the memory of a middle-aged person with a chronic disease.  Also, remember, the list is not nearly exhaustive, that Blogpost formatting still eludes me, and that the choice of wheelchair type is subjective.  Finally, for more information about the hikes, click on the name of the trail to link to a website.


Jenny's List of Wheelchair-Accessible Hikes on the West Coast

Trail: Gold Pond
Location: Snoqualmie Pass, WA
Distance: 1 mile loop
Surface: paved (muddy if wet), some boardwalk
Wheelchair: Power or manual chair, if conditions are good; otherwise, third wheel
View: Gold Creek Pond, mountains, forest
Trailhead: Exit 54 off of I-90 is about 2 miles east of Snoqualmie Summit
Other: Picnic tables at Pond

  Gold Pond

Gold Pond

Trail: Mountain Lake
Location: Orcas Island, WA
Distance: 3.9 miles round trip
Surface: dirt
Wheelchair: manual chair with third wheel
View: Mountain Lake, forest, birds
Trailhead: The parking area is 1/4 mile down Mountain Lake Turnoff, near Eastsound, on Orcas Island.
Other: I hesitate to call this trail wheelchair-accessible, because of the barrier to prevent bikes at the beginning, which necessitates disembarking and having someone carry you across.  However, once past the barrier, the rest of the path is flat and accessible and beautiful. Someone should contact Moran State Park!

  Mountain Lake

Mountain Lake

  Tualatin River National Wildlife Reserve Main Trail

Tualatin River National Wildlife Reserve Main Trail

Trail: Tualatin River National Wildlife Reserve Main Trail
Location: Sherwood, OR
Distance: 3.1 mile loop
Surface: dirt (mud)
Wheelchair: all-terrain chair
View: Wildlife refuge, birds, river, forest
Trailhead: SW of Portland, OR on SW Pacific Highway, between Tualatin and Sherwood, OR

  Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail

Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail

Trail: Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail
Location: Monterey, CA
Distance: 18 miles one-way
Surface: paved
Wheelchair:  power chair
View: Pacific Ocean, sand dunes, otters and marine mammals, Monterey Bay, harbor, & city
Trailheads: several on & off points along coast from Pacific Grove to Castroville.
Other: busy multi-use urban trail

Trail: Asilomar Beach
Location: Pacific Grove, CA
Distance: 2.6 miles out & back
Surface: hard-packed sand, boardwalks
Wheelchair:   manual with third wheel
View: Pacific Ocean, beach with dunes, rocks, otters, sunset
Trailheads: Multiple parking spaces and entrances to Asilomar Beach off of Ocean View Blvd in Pacific Grove.

  Asilomar Beach

Asilomar Beach

More Recommendations from Jenny:

Trail: Peoh Point
Location: Cle Elum, WA
Distance: 2 miles round trip
Surface: dirt road
Wheelchair: manual with third wheel
View: Cascade mountains, flowers, Snoqualmie Pass, Cle Elum Lake
Trailhead: South Cle Elum Way to 6th/Westwood to paved/signed road to FR 3350.  At five-way intersection with parking, continue on left road till gate and park there.  (warning - potholes!)

Trail: Point Vicente
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles, CA
Distance: 5.6 miles out & back
Surface: dirt
Wheelchair: manual chair
Views:  Pacific Ocean, whales, lighthouse, interpretive center
Trailhead: Interpretive Center at end of Point Vicente Interpretive Center Road at curve where Palos Verdes Dr W meets Palos Verdes Dr S.

Trail:  Runyon Canyon Park - to Inspiration Point
Location: Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, CA
Distance: 1.6 miles out & back
Surface: paved, dirt, hard-packed gravel
Wheelchair: manual chair
Views: Hollywood sign, hills, and mansions, LA skyline, flowers and cacti
Trailhead: North end of Fuller Ave
Other: busy urban trail, bring water

Trail: Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail
Location: Umatilla, OR
Distance: 7.3 miles one-way
Surface: hard-packed gravel
Wheelchair: all-terrain chair
View: Columbia River
Trailheads: McNary Beach Park, Hat Rock State Park, or Warehouse Beach

 

Links to other lists and ideas about wheelchair-accessible hikes in WA (no personal recommendations here; try at your own risk!):

Wheelchair-accessible trails from Outdoors for All (compiled by two of their participants)
http://www.accessiblenature.info/?page_id=165
http://www.seattletimes.com/life/outdoors/where-to-hit-the-trail-in-a-wheelchair/
https://www.traillink.com/stateactivity/wa-wheelchair-accessible-trails/
http://www.wta.org/go-outside/basics/ada-accessible-hikes
http://www.accessibletrails.com/  (last updated 2014)
https://www.alltrails.com    (must register)

In general: ADA trails, fire roads, National Wildlife Preserve trails, Rails-to-Trails trails