Maine has a number of trails with minimal obstacles. Some are very easy and others are wheelchair accessible. Here are just a few of them.
These links were found through Internet search. I would love some first-hand information. 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.
Main Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge
From Trail Finder: “The 0.2 mile Southern Corea Heath Trail is a short 0.2 mile wheelchair accessible trail surrounded by stunted trees and shrubs heading for an observation platform with a 270 degree view of the heath. This trail offers a rare opportunity to experience a coastal plateau bog (heath) with its unique and specialized plants and excellent wildlife habitat.”
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge covers 5,400 acres along the Maine coast. Here are a number of brochures about the refuge.
The Timber Point trail is a 1.4 mile accessible loop that “takes visitors past fringing salt marshes, cattail marshes, mixed deciduous forest, mudflats, shrublands, and rocky shores.” Trail map.
The Carson Trail in Wells, is a “one-mile loop that winds along Branch Brook and the Merriland River with 11 interpretive stations en route. The trail is accessible throughout, and dogs on leash are welcome. ” See an article written by Carey Kisch for more information.
Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge Phone 603-482-3415 Map
Magalloway River Trail Trail Map 1/3 mile “….a good place to view moose, boreal birds and waterfowl. It features an easy walk through a forested river’s edge to an observation platform overlooking the backwaters of the Magalloway River.” trailfinder
Ferry Beach State Park has …”1.7 mile network of trails that for the most part are barrier free and pass through varied ecosystems.” The park is about 100 acres and has a picnic area, nature trails and guided nature programs from Memorial day to Oct. 1. Round trip walk to the beach is 2.8 miles. Parking off season can be a problem. Call 207-283-0067 or 207- 624-6080 (off season) for more information.
The Maine Wildlife Park, off Interstate 95, near Gray has some accessible nature trails and picnic tables, rental wheelchairs and Braille signs which can be requested. Call (207) 657-4977 for more information.
Wolfe’s Neck State Park Phone 207-865-4465 Brochure & Map
White Pines Trail is a 0.5 mile accessible loop trail along the shore. Trail map. Reviews from Trip Advisor Thank you to Naomi King who wrote this report of her visit: ” …White Pines Trail is along the shore, it is heavily wooded. It is electric wheelchair accessible. There are special picnic areas with picnic tables longer at one end to accommodate wheelchairs. The restrooms are truly accessible, even for a large power chair, though those with limited upper body mobility may want assistance with the screen door and the faucet. There is no accessible trail to the shore. However, the osprey nest observation site is on the accessible part of White Pines. There are more pieces of trail that might be suitable for easy walking but cannot accommodate a wheelchair. Entrance fee is $4/person. Not much to see, but a nice place to plan a family or friend outing and to fit in some good osprey watching. Bring binoculars.”
Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands brochure with accessibility of each State Park and Historic Site.
The Bethel Pathway has a 0.9 mile section going west from Davis which is wheelchair accessible. From TrailFinder: the trail “goes past the skate park, over a miniature covered bridge, and out to US Route 2 where there is another parking lot. The pathway then goes over the impressive single span bridge over the Androscoggin, loops back on itself, and continues along the other shore of the river, past the parking lot and water slide of the Big Adventure Center. It currently ends soon after, on the North Road.” There is another crushed stone, hard, and flat section which goes eastward to the upper end of Sunset Road.
Bangor Parks and Recreation maintains the Brown Woods where you can still see old-growth Eastern White Pines in their forest habitat. The trail is a one mile loop.
City of Portland. Here is a use-searchable list of trails in the Portland area. You can screen the trails by “wheelchair accessible” or “stroller friendly”. It lists 13 wheelchair accessible trails.
Baxter Woods Nature Preserve is a 30 acre area that offers “… towering pines, river views and quiet, shaded trails” within Portland. The trail is about 0.75 miles and is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
Fore River Sanctuary is a 85 acre nature preserve within Portland. It came up in my search for wheelchair accessibility, but the trails are not described on the website. Try calling Portland Trails at 207-775-2411 for information on this and other Portland trails.
The Riverton Rail Trail cuts ” a straight line through rock outcroppings and thick forest … the trail is mostly flat and level until a steep gully interrupts the old rail line near Riverside Industrial Parkway.” “Most of the trail is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.”
The Cliff Walk to the Portland Head Light is an “easily followed crushed stone path that winds along the scenic cliffs and historic remains of Fort Williams. A highlight is the Portland Head Light located right on the path.” From Main Trail Finder. Thank you, Eric Rathbon, for letting me know about this trail and for the photo.
Mowry Beach has a 0.8 mile round trip path described as, ” A short stretch of gravel path [which] leads to a 1,700-foot long boardwalk that passes through typical coastal scrub-shrub woodland and skirts sphagnum bog and cattail swamp.” The beach is part of a larger network of hiking trails in known as Cobscook Trails, a cooperative project of conservation landowners and community partners.” For more information, contact the Downeast Coastal Conservancy.
Boothbay Regional Land Trust
Penny Lake Preserve is a freshwater wetland with adjoining woodlands and open field. Trail Map and brochure. The accessible trail is 0.55 miles. “An abundant variety of wildlife may be viewed, including migratory and nesting birds, turtles, beaver, deer, and even a very occasional moose. In addition, numerous plants thrive in this varied natural habitat, from wildflowers to cattails and from hardwood trees to evergreens.” Penny Lake Preserve is part of the .
Here are links to information on other trails within the Boothbay Trust, many of which sound as if they would be easy walking.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
The gardens cover 295 acres of tidal shoreland. “Discover stunning ornamental gardens and exceptional natural beauty, waterfalls, and incomparable stonework and sculpture. Miles of trails allow you to experience waterfront and woodlands that are quintessentially Maine.” That’s from their Facebook page.
A visitor writing in TripAdvisor says “If you want to book a accessible cart ride around the garden beware that it must be booked and paid for a week in advance and will happen if it rains or not.” Naomi King, who suggested this post, says “Most of the folks I saw in wheelchairs at the Gardens were in portables or using the scooters the Gardens offer, but there’s at least an hour’s worth of pathways to cover and more if folks stop to rest. There is a finger labyrinth and for folks in manual wheelchairs, a large flat stone and grass labyrinth (too soft for a power chair). Some of the children’s garden was wheelchair accessible, but some of the activities and spaces were not.”
Accessibility Phone 207-633-8000 Map
Here is an article by in USA today by Jodi Thornton O’Connell about accessible beaches in Maine.
Benton-Winslow Rotary Trail Description from Kennebec Messalonskee Trails
This approximately 3 mile “very level trail, [was] constructed along an old rail bed. It leads to a former rail bridge abutment from which one can look up and down river for a mile each way. Visitors may be see turkeys, deer, ducks, beavers, turtles, and an occasional heron or bald eagle.” Thank you Cyndi, for bringing this trail to my attention. She writes that the “trail’s accessibility is weather dependent. The railroad bed is flat and the ‘superhumus’ bark mulch surface is accessible to individuals in wheelchairs when it is not snow covered. During the winter many people snowshoe, ski, walk and run on this trail so the path is well used and snow becomes packed. This surface becomes slippery when it freezes and boot ice grippers are recommended. The trees along the trail provide a nice wind break.” She cautions that hikers should take care to keep their children and dogs away from the river and adds that “The trail mile markers posts have large print [but] may not be visible to all users with limited vision.”
Hike New England This marvelous, searchable website lists hikes in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island with information about difficulty, length, elevation gain, and features. There are maps and photos for many of the hikes. Using their Hike Finder, I did a search for Easy trails, 5 miles or less and came up with 51 trails! Be aware that Easy for them, might not be easy enough for you. Once you come up with a page for a sanctuary, park, forest, whatever, it would be wise to call for trail conditions.
Brief description from MDOT of bicycle and pedestrian trails of mixed governance. Those in the first section of the brochure are described as “wide, off-road, paved or gravel trails that allow walking, road and hybrid bicycling, handicap accessibility, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Motorized activity, such as the use of ATVs, is prohibited.”
Here is a list of links to Maine businesses that claim to be handicapped accessible and which offer a wide variety of outdoor activities ranging from camping, guided fishing and hunting, skiing, boat tours and more.
Maine Trial Finder is a searchable website. I have keyed in the words “hiking/walking”, “easy” and “nature”. There are 16 trails listed with links to descriptions and contacts. Searching with “wheelchair” as a key word brings up 13 locations.
Nature For The Blind has a directory of Braille trails for almost every state in the US and for many other countries.
Orono Bog Boardwalk is for “persons wishing to experience the beauty and fascinating plants and animals of a Maine bog. The 1-mile boardwalk loop trail begins at the forested wetland edge in the Bangor City Forest, and after 800 feet crosses the Orono town line into the portion of the Orono Bog owned by the University of Maine. Along the way the boardwalk passes through a wide range of changing vegetation and environments on its way to the open, peat moss carpeted center of the Orono Bog.” Hours vary throughout the season.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails in Maine.
Wheelchairtraveling.com is an outstanding resource.