Alaska has a number of trails with minimal obstacles. Some are very easy and others are wheelchair accessible. Here are just a few of them.
Most of the links given were found through Internet search. Some places I have been able to visit and a few have been recommended to me by other people who have been there. With your help, we can share our knowledge with disabled people everywhere and also increase awareness of the need for more accessibility. Please e-mail me with your suggestions using the form to the right.
Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Reserve is a birding area near Fairbanks. It covers 1800 acres of wetland, forest, ponds, and open fields. There are three nature trails, described as “flat and easy” by visitors. Here are some reviews from Trip Advisor. To avoid disappointment, it would be wise to call to learn the best times to coincide with the birds’ migration and to check trail conditions. Laurie Boeck, Refuge Manager, wrote me that “Creamer’s does have an handicapped accessible loop in a typical year, but this year has been an exception with the persistent flooding events (we flooded again on Monday [9/1/14]). The boreal forest trail is also a relatively easy walking, and while it is not up to ADA standards, it is a flat trail with frequently placed benches for people to rest as they traverse the trail. ” Call 907-459-7307 for more information. Thanks to Ontario artist Terry Best for telling me about it.
Katmai National Park –
“Katmai National Monument was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes…. It is still an active volcanic area, but also preserves 9000 years of human history.” Katmai spans over four million acres of remote, wild, and spectacular country. There are “vast multi–lake watersheds with hundreds of miles of wild, untamed rivers and streams.” It is important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears.
All bear viewing platforms are accessible. “The trails to the Brooks Falls and Riffles platforms are accessible. However, the narrow paths at Brooks Camp are rough and can become very muddy. ” Also be aware you might have to move off a trail to make way for a passing bear.
Tongass National Forest From TravelAlaska.com
Tongass is the nation’s largest national forest. It covers most of Southeast Alaska, including the Inside Passage, Mendenhall Glacier, Bear Creek, and Admiralty Island. It “is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, and is home to a majestic array of islands, mountains, forests, glaciers, salmon streams, fjords and bays.”
Ward Creek Trail 1.4 miles gravel surfaced in rolling terrain.
Pipeline Trail 3.1 miles gravel surface in rolling terrain.
Mosquito Cove Trail 1.5 mile loop through hemlock/spruce forest. The first 1000′ is ADA complaint.
Eagle’s Nest Campground Interpretive Trail 0.5 mile through spruce trees, along Control Creek where salmon spawn.
Wukuklook Beach Trail 0.5 mile boardwalk to Wukuklook Beach.
Crystal Lake Trail 0.8 mile on natural glacier gravel deposits. This trail is rated “easy”, but may not be easy enough. Call the Forest to learn more.
Lake Florence Trail 1.4 miles “The trail gradually climbs from saltwater on Chatham Strait through a spruce/hemlock forest and ends at Lake Florence.” Rated easy, but check first.
Tongas National Forest Headquarters 907-225-3101 Map
The Forest Service has produced this guide to Trails outside Ketchikan. It includes trails within the Forest and some administered by the City of Ketchikan. A number of these sound pretty easy, although not wheelchair accessible. Call the Ranger District to learn more. 907-225-2148
Alaska State Parks
Alaska’s “…diversity of landscapes is reflected in the parks, historic sites, recreation areas, trails, preserves, and special areas of the State Park System — a collection of 123 units ranging in size from the half-acre Potter Section House State Historic site to the 1.6 million-acre Wood-Tikchik State Park.”
Brochure Accessible Facilities
DNR Public Information Centers phones: Anchorage 907-269-8400, Fairbanks 907-451-2705
Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
Created by the state in 1982, the preserve protects the world’s largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their habitat. It also protects the natural salmon runs. The Preserve consists of 48,000 acres of river bottom land of the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers.
1.75 miles of pavement and boardwalk for viewing eagles along the Chilkat river. Map Haines Ranger Station phone 907-766-2292
Chugach State Park
This large Southcentral Alaska park includes “….diverse land forms and rugged topography, bounded on the north and west by the Alaska Range, and on the east by the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains and Prince William Sound. The region contains extensive ocean shoreline, abundant lakes, massive glaciers and ice fields. The park’s westernmost boundary lies in the western foothills of the Chugach Mountain Range and is a mere seven miles to the east of downtown Anchorage. “
Anchorage Overlook trail 0.25 mile paved and gravel trail view of Anchorage, Alaska Range and Cook Inlet. Anchorage Hillside Trail System Guide Map Chugach Hillside Brochure and Map
Bird Creek to Indian Bike Trail c 3 miles paved along Turnagain Arm to Bird Creek Campground
Bird Point to Girdwood Bike Path 6 miles paved
Bird Ridge Trailhead. 0.3 mile with viewing areas at either end. paved
Eagle River Nature Center Trail System There are 3 easy trails and one rated easy to moderate. The trails are hard-pack gravel, so some wheelchair users may find them accessible.
Potter Creek Interpretive Trail 0.46 miles, 220 feet paved.
Trail Descriptions Phone 907-345-5014
Denali State Park
This 325,240 acre park provides a great variety of recreational opportunities, ranging from roadside camping to wilderness exploration. Lying between the Talkeetna Mountains to the east and the Alaska Range to the west, the landscape varies from meandering lowland streams to alpine tundra.
Denali View North has about 1200′ of paved trail with interpretive signs.
Brochure & Map Phone 907-745-3975
Lake Louise State Recreation Area
This 500 acre” area provides opportunities for “camping, fishing, boating, bird watching, hiking, biking, berry picking, snow machining, skiing, skating, hunting, and Northern Lights viewing. Lake Louise offers great year round fishing and sports four species of fish…” There is a great variety of wildlife including moose, bear, wolves, fox, sheep, lynx and caribou. You may see loons and trumpeter swans.
There is a “hard-pack gravel” interpretive trail. Length not given.
Map Campground phone 907-441-7575
Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area
This park includes several lakes stocked with trout and grayling. The lakes are in glacial depressions between moraine ridges. The park is enjoyed for fishing, hiking, camping, and biking.
Trails around Matanuska Lake are hard-pack gravel Map
Phone DPOR 907-269-8700
Old Sitka State Historical Park
A settlement here was built by Russians in the early 1800s. This site has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Forest and Muskegs Trail 1.25 self-guided mile “…hard-pack gravel, with sections of boardwalk. Approximately 100 feet of trail has a 14% gradient. The rest of the trail has a gradient of 12% or less.”
Point Bridget State Park
The 2,850 acre park is forty miles north of Juneau and has muskeg, meadows, cliffs, salmon spawning streams, and rocky beaches on the sea.
Point Bridget Trail from Alaska.org: The trail “meanders through muskeg, mature forest, and grassland until it reaches a beaver dam and views of the Lynn Canal. Bears often visit the meadow, but leave it to fish the stream. In spring, thousands of white-winged and surf scooters swim wing to wing in one giant raft. It is quite a sight to behold. Sea lions and harbor seals are often seen near shore and every once-in-awhile a humpback whale is offshore.”
At 7 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 400′ this trail is likely to be too long and have too much elevation gain for you to do the entire trail, although it is described as suitable for all skill levels and “kid friendly”. The wildflowers and scenery may make it worthwhile walking part way.
Phone 907-465-4563 Trails in Point Bridget State Park Park Map Park Guide
Settlers Cove State Recreation Site
Settlers Cove is a quiet spot on the Clover Passage. Red Cedar, Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce grow here in the temperate rainforest. There is a sandy beach and a series of trails.
Hollow Cedar Beach Access Trail 200 yds to Lunch Creek Bridge
University of Alaska Fairbanks Trail System
The university maintains an in town trail network. “North Campus consists of approximately 1,100 acres of largely forested land on the north-to-northwest side of camps. The area provides valuable research, education, and recreation opportunities for UAF faculty, staff and students, visiting educators and scientists, and community members.” Map Phone 907-474-2648
City of Juneau Trail Mix, Inc.
Mendenhall River Trail 2 miles, paved. The trail follows the Mendenhall River greenbelt area, starting at Brotherhood Bridge. “In mid-summer, over a flat field of iris and fireweed, the Mendenhall rises between McGinnis Mountain and the Sawtooth Peaks.”
Juneau area hiking trails Parks and Recreation phone 907-459-1070
Accessible Alaska Cruises organize wheelchair accessible cruises to most tourist ports in Alaska.
Alaska Small Boat Tours
If your only disability is stamina and you are still capable of climbing ladders and in and out of bunks, I strongly recommend a trip on one of the small cruising boats in Alaskan waters. I spent a week on the M/V Catalyst and had a fabulous time.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails in Alaska.
Wheelchairtraveling.com is an outstanding resource.