Florida 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 in the sidebar.
Everglades National Park
The Everglades spans across 1.5 million acres that stretches over the southern part of Florida. There are three main areas. The northern section of the park is accessible via Miami or Everglades City, the southern section is accessible through Homestead. The three entrances are not connected. The Everglades has a “vast diversity of flora and fauna in different eco-systems: freshwater sloughs, marl prairies, tropical hammocks, pineland, cypress, mangrove, coastal lowlands, marine, and estuarine.”
Gulf Coast Visitor Center Phone 239-695-3311 As of November, 2017 the center is closed because of damage from Hurricane Irma.
Flamingo Visitor Center Phone 239-695-2945 As of November, 2017 the center is partially closed because of damage from Hurricane Irma.
Shark Valley Visitor Center Phone 305-221-8776 As of November, 2017 the center is closed because of flooding from Hurricane Irma.
Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Phone 305-242-7700
Anhinga Trail 0.8 mile round trip “…self-guiding trail winds through a sawgrass marsh, where you may see alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, and many other birds, especially during the winter. This is one the most popular trails in the park because of its abundance of wildlife.”
Gumbo Limbo Trail 0.4 round trip “… self-guiding, paved trail meanders through a shaded, jungle-like hammock of gumbo limbo trees (Bursera simaruba), royal palms (Roystonea elata), ferns, and air plants.”
Pineland Trail 0.4 mile trail trail “loops through a forest of pines, palmettos, and wildflowers.”
Pahayokee Overlook a 0.16 mile boardwalk loop
Mahogany Hammock Trail 0.5 mile “self-guiding boardwalk trail meanders through a dense, jungle-like hardwook “hammock.” Lush vegetation includes gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree (Swietenia mahogani) in the United States.”
West Lake Trail .05 mile “self-guided boardwalk trail wanders through a forest of white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), black mangrove (Avicennia nitida), red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), and buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) trees to the edge of West Lake.”
Bobcat Boardwalk Trail 0.5 mile “self-guided boardwalk trail that meanders through the sawgrass slough and tropical hardwood forests.”
Gulf Islands National Seashore.
The hurricanes of 2017 may have done considerable damage to these areas. Call before going. Phone 850-934-2600
The islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico offer white sandy beaches and aquamarine waters. Come for boating, camping exploring an old fort or to fish.
“Visitors can plan their trip to either the Florida District or to the Mississippi District. Each district provides recreation, barrier islands, salt marshes, historic structures and wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico.” Accessibility Loaner wheelchairs are available in both districts.
“Perdido Key Discovery Trail and six beach cross-over boardwalks (two to sound; four to Gulf) are wheelchair accessible.” call 850-934-2600 for more information. Fort Pickens fishing pier is accessible.
Naval Live Oaks The first loop of the 0.8 mile Breckenridge Trail is an “accessible boardwalk with tactile waysides.”
The Davis Bayou Trail takes visitors through a coastal forest and over two local bayous. The trail is approximately two miles long. AllTrails describes it as “good for all skill levels.”
The short boardwalk over Stark Bayou is the only part of the trail that is wheelchair accessible.
“Boardwalk trails, campsites and fishing pier are accessible.” For information call Davis Bayou Visitor center at 228-875-9057.
Florida State Parks Accessible facilities. A number of state parks are listed as having accessible trails. However, most of the links do not work and even when they do, there are few description of the trails.
Florida Tech Botanical Garden – accessible, easy
The over twenty acre botanical garden at Florida Tech in Melbourne is free and open to the public. There are more than 200 palms, bamboos and many other plants amidst winding streams in this lush setting. Michelle Mulak in Florida Today writes that, “The trail has both paved and unpaved sections, with some small bridges and uneven terrain. When dry, this would be suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. When wet, wooden surfaces become slippery, and low-lying sections will flood. Most of the trail is shaded.” Thank you to Bill Blevins for letting us know about the garden. Phone 321-674-803 Virtual Tour Map
Their website Description and Self Guided Tour at plantsmap.com.
1.25 mile Dent Smith Trail. See comment above about the trail when it is wet.
Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
Tarkiln Bayou Preserve empties into Perdido Bay. It is “home to four species of endangered pitcher plants, as well as other rare and endangered plant species and. Almost 100 rare plants and animals depend on the wet prairie habitat, including the alligator snapping turtle, sweet pitcher plant, and Chapman’s butterwort.” Phone 850-492-1595
Tarkiln Bayou Trail 0.5mile ADA accessible trail. “The sidewalk and elevated boardwalk of this trail meanders through prairie, cypress and titi forests. Benches along the trail provide areas for reflection. When the trail ends, the observation area provides a scenic view of the bayou.”
? Lake Lotus Park is a 150 acre nature preserve open Thursdays through Sundays. There is a mile long boardwalk, but no description of how easy it is to get on and off the boardwalk. A shuttle from the parking lot to the heart of the park runs every 45 minutes, but again, no mention as to whether it can accommodate wheelchairs. Better call before you go. Here is a description from Florida Hikes. Reviews on Yelp. Phone 407-293-8885
Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a linear park and recreation trail currently extending from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs along an abandoned railroad corridor.
Volusia County Phone 386-239-7873
These beaches do not offer the kind of natural trails this website is really about, but they do offer facilities for disabled visitors.
Daytona Beach Accessibility Phone 386-255-0415 Wheelchairs
New Smyrna Beach Brochure
Smyrna Dunes Park in New Smyrna Beach (Volusia County)
This park has “… over 2 miles of boardwalk with views of the Indian River, Ponce Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. A great view of the lighthouse while walking. Meet other dog lovers and see a wide variety of animals, birds, reptiles, marine life and vegetation in their natural habitat. Note: pets must be leashed at all times.” This quote is from the New Smryna Beach Visitors Center site. Phone 386-424-2935.
Grassy Waters Preserve is a 23 square mile “remnant of the once great Everglades system. A mosaic of wetlands, tree islands, and forested hammocks, Grassy Waters Preserve is home to a variety of native wildlife.” There are a number of attractive-sounding trails. Trail System Call for trail conditions: 561-804-4985
Cypress Boardwalk Trail 1 mile round trip through marsh and cypress swamp. It is “wheelchair and stroller friendly”. Brochure
? Hog Hammock Trail 4.23 miles round trip crushed concrete with intermittent boardwalks through “…restored and natural wetland communities including cabbage palm hammock, mesic pine flatwoods, forrested wetlands, and cypress domes.” Brochure
Apoxee Trail 0.5 miles connecting to other trails, which may be easy depending on trail conditions. Brochure
The Audobon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
“Corkscrew swamp sanctuary is a 14,000 acre wildlife sanctuary located near naples, florida , Founded in 1954 it contains the largest remaining Bald Cypress Forest in North America.” Accessibility tripadvisor Disabled Travel on VisitFlorida Phone 239-348-9151
“A 2.25 mile boardwalk is an adventure a 2.5-mile adventure through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, around a marsh, and finally into the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America”. There is also another, one mile boardwalk.
As of November, 2017: “Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has reopened after Hurricane Irma and we are offering a reduced admission price of $10 for adults and children under 18 are FREE. The boardwalk experience includes the short loop as we continue to repair the additional boardwalk areas.”
Disabled Travel Florida VisitFlorida.com has a helpful list with links to 19 travel destinations in Florida accessible to disabled travelers.
Nature For The Blind has a directory of Braille trails for almost every state in the US and for many other countries.
Here is a map of nature trails throughout Florida from Florida Hikes! They are all “an easy mile or less.” Each icon links to a photo and brief description.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails in Florida.
Wheelchairtraveling.com is an outstanding resource.