Washington 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.
Accessible Adventures in the Pacific Northwest Videos The US Forest Service has produced a series of videos (33 as of August 2016) narrated by John Williams. These five to six minute videos visit National Forests and Scenic Byways in Washington and Oregon, letting you see just how accessible (or not) many of these wonderful places are.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Map Video of Accessible Adventures phone (541) 308-1700
Catherine Creek Trail #4400 is a one mile paved trail “with great views of the Columbia River on the south side of the county road. …….. Some individuals with disabilities may need assistance on the Catherine Creek Trail.” Here is a description from OregonHikers.org. This is part of the Burdoin/Coyote Wall/Catherine Creek Recreation Area Day hiking trails
St. Cloud Trail #4410 is a “Short loop through an old apple orchard. Interpretive signs explain the historical importance of the area.”
Sandy River Delta Trail #4417 is a 1.1 mile compact gravel trail to the Sandy River Confluence bird blind site. Map
Balfour-Klickitat Trail #4414 0.7 miles. “….offers unique views of the Columbia and the Klickitat rivers as well as wildflower and birdwatching opportunities.” The trail is “paved and accessible with a 0-15% gradient. Most of the trail is ADA accessible; some people with disabilities may need assistance.” Described by OregonHikers.org.
Sams Walker Trail #4402 a 1.1 mile loop. “…good views of the Oregon side of the Gorge and picnic tables at the viewpoint. It is 3 feet wide and surfaced with crushed gravel.” Described by OregonHikers.org
Idaho Panhandle National Forests
The 2.5 million acres of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests contain mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, ancient cedar groves, and an abundance of wildlife. From NationalForests.org: “The Idaho Panhandle National Forests are an aggregation of the Coeur d’Alene and portions of the Kaniksu and St. Joe National Forests. There are eight local points of contact including the Supervisor’s Office, six district offices and the Coeur d’Alene Tree Nursery.” The Forests extend into eastern Washington and western Montana. Supervisor’s Office phone 208-765-7223. See website for District Rangers’ phones. Publications
Pulaski Tunnel Trail The forest service says that the first 725 feet of trail are accessible to visitors with disabilities.
Hobo Cedar Grove Trail From the website: “The trail has a gentle gradient making it accessible to older persons or those with moderate physical impairments. The trail width is about 40 inches. An occasional log bench provides seating along the trail.”
Hiawatha Rail Trail is not listed in the Rails-to-Trails site, but I have seen references to wheelchair use. Call 208-744-1301. Here is some more information from the Friends of the Coeur d’Alene Trails. You can also give the Forest Service a call at (208) 765-7223.
Mineral Point Trail is 2.1 miles one way and described as “….one of the most beautiful trails on the Sandpoint Ranger District and is popular with hikers and mountain bikers. Gentle grades, wildflowers and excellent views make this trail suitable for the entire family.”
Sam Owen Trail is “wheelchair moderate, hiker easy……The first ½ mile of this trail has a hardened surface that is suitable for wheel chairs and strollers. The hardened trail ends at a beautiful vista of Owens Bay and the benches offer a nice place to sit and enjoy the view. The remaining ½ mile of trail is native surface, narrow and not suitable for wheel chairs or strollers…..This is a great hike for a family with small children. “
North Cascades National Park Complex Phone 206-526-6677 Maps North Cascades and Mt. Baker Visitor Guide
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Phone 425-783-6000 Links to Motor Vehicle Use Maps List of “Family friendly ADA accessible trails” Stevens Greenway: Accessible Adventures video
Baker Lake and Mt. Baker National Recreation Area
Shadow of the Sentinels 0.5 mile interpretive trail through old growth forest.
Sterling Munro Trail 330 feet boardwalk with view of Picket Range.
River Loop 1.8 miles
Rock Shelter Trail 0.3 mile “…to Native American campsite above Newhalem Creek, moderate grade.”
Gorge Overlook Trail 0.5 mile (0.2 mile is paved), Views of Gorge Lake and Dam.
Happy Creek Forest Walk 0.3 mile boardwalk through ancient creekside forest.
Rainy Lake Trail 1.0 mile paved trail to lake with views of waterfall.
Washington Pass Overlook Trail 810 ft. loop trail with “…view of mountains from a high bluff. ”
Boyd Creek 0.25 mile Interpretive trail focused on fish habitat.
Heather Meadows Area Accessible Adventures video
Picture Lake 0.5 mile interpretive loop.
Fire and Ice 0.5 mile interpretive loop.
Artist Ridge 1.0 loop to viewpoint
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Interactive Visitor Map Phone 509-664-9200
“The Cascade Lookout 2015” 23 pages of information about the Forest.
Chelan Ranger District Phone 509-662-4900
Ten Mile Falls Trail 1.0 mile The trail “…winds around large rocks, through aspen and Douglas fir forests to a view point where you can rest on the benches available and look out to Copper Peak and over the Copper Creek Valley. Go another 0.2 of a mile to find yourself on a viewing deck overlooking 10 Mile Falls.”
Methow Valley Ranger District Phone 509-996-4003 Accessible Adventures video
Rainy Lake Trail 0.9 miles flat paved trail to a picnic spot. “High cliffs surround the lake, with waterfalls cascading down to the lake. In the fall, the golds and reds of the changing shrubs and trees are spectacular.”
Clear Lake Trail 1.0 mile paved trail, fishing piers, bird watching blinds, and picnic area. “The asphalt trail takes you along the lake and through the woods to see wildflowers and if you’re quiet maybe an elk or deer.”
Pleasant Valley Interpretive Trail 1.0 mile. Paved. Views of American River.
Mather Memorial Parkway East Portal. 0.25 mile paved trail.
Tonasket Ranger District Phone 509-486-2186
? Big Tree Trail 1.0 mile. “Easy”. The trail “…travels 1 mile from Lost Lake Campground to the Big Tree Botanical Trailhead and Interpretive Site, then continues 0.7 mile around the loop at the Big Trail Interpretive Site where the trail highlights two 900 year old Western Larch trees with a couple of benches to take in the surrounding Western Larch and other conifer species.” “Great trail for the whole family.” The Interpretive site is accessible, I am not sure about the trail.
Wenatchee River Ranger District Phone 509-548-2550
Hidden Lake 0.75 mile “Easiest” . “The trail climbs very gently through dense forest, and provides good opportunities for nature study with small children. Once it reaches Hidden Lake, the trail becomes brushier and harder to follow as it curves along the lake’s north shore, and it ends at a lovely waterfall at the lake’s west end.”
Icicle Gorge 3.6 mile interpretive loop 200 ft elevation change. “Easiest”.
Olympic National Park – Phone 360-565-3130 Link to Maps and Brochures Park Map
Although some of these trails have little elevation gain, mosses, mud, and wet rocks and roots can make them challenging. Accessible Adventures video
Madison Falls 0.1 mile one way paved trail to a 60 ft. waterfall.
? Smokey Bottom Trail 1.9 miles one way. “Winds through forest above former Lake Mills.” Although there is only 18 ft. elevation change on this trail, it may have difficult footing. Call to find out.
? Terrace Loop “Easy 1.2 mile loop through forested terraces above the Dosewallips River. Elevation gain 200 feet.”
? RainShadow Loop 0.5 mile self guided trail to top of Blue Mountain. Elevation gain is 170 ft and I do not know how difficult the path is. Call first.
Hoh Rain Forest
Mini Trail 0.1 mile “…flat, paved, accessible-with-assistance loop in old growth rain forest.”
0.8 mile “…easy loop through old growth temperate rain forest, with 100 foot elevation gain.”
? Spruce Nature Trail 1.2 mile loop. “…loop through temperate rain forest to Hoh River. Less than 100 foot elevation gain.” Could be difficult footing.
Cirque Rim 0.5 mile one way. “Easy paved trail with views of Port Angeles and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Wheelchair accessible with assistance.”
Big Meadow 0.25 one way “Easy paved trail crosses open meadows with views of the Olympics. Wheelchair accessible with assistance.”
Hurricane Hill. The first 0.25 miles of this 1.6 mile trail is wheelchair accessible with assistance. Paved.
Kalaloch Nature Trail 1.0 mile “…easy loop through coastal forest, with stairs and elevation change less than 40 feet.”
Ruby Beach and Beach 4 have accessible overlooks.
Moments in Time 0.6 mile loop 0.6 mile loop “Self-guided nature trail through forest and by the lake, 0.6 loop none accessible with assistance.”
Rialto Beach 200 ft path to ocean view. “Temporary accessible ramp available in summer season.”
Maple Glade 0.5 mile flat loop through a mossy bigleaf maple grove. Accessible with assistance, but not fully ADA.
Kestner Homestead 1.3 mile loop. Accessible with assistance, but not fully ADA.
Shady Lane 0.9 mile trail to Four Stream Road and Lake Cushman. First 0.1 mile is accessible.
Staircase Rapids Loop 2 mile trail of which “The 0.6 miles to the Big Cedar, and the 0.5 mile section to a river viewpoint are accessible with assistance.”
Palouse Falls State Park
There is a 1/4 mile ADA trail to a view of the falls. Thank you, JP Bruce for the suggestion and the photo.
The Discover Pass, required for Washington State Parks and other State lands, is not needed by those holding Disability placards and license plates.
Washington State Parks statement on accessibility
The Belleview Botanic Gardens are beautifully designed to give a feel for the natural ecology of the area. Here is their accessibility information. There are accessible restrooms at the visitor center. Many of the gravel/mulch trails are hilly so severely limited people may wish to remain on the upper parts, near the parking lot, although power wheelchairs should be able to negotiate most of the trails. Call them for details: tel:425.452.2750.
The mile long part of the Lake to Lake Trail that is in the Lake Hills Greenbelt in Belleview takes you through a wetland, a blueberry farm and into cedar woods. You can park at the Ranger Station GPS N47° 365.800′ W122° 08.057′ or at the fruit stand GPS N47° 36.199′ W122° o8.554′.
Seattle Parks 206-684-4075
Carkeek Park Trail Map Phone 206-684-0877 Washington Trails Association Yelp
Salmon to Sound Trail, Piper’s Creek Trail from Lower Meadow to Piper’s Orchard and the Wetland Trail are all mentioned as ADA in various internet postings. The Wetland Trail is hard packed gravel with a section of wide boardwalk with railings. These are short hikes, but the actual lengths are not given in any references I have found.
About Accessibility in Washington State: A collaboration between Washington’s Recreation and Conservation Office, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the USDA Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, Olympic National Park and the State Parks and Recreation Commission has put together guidelines for outdoor recreation. They rate everything from campsites, picnic sites, places for fishing and hiking to bathrooms and wildlife watching as:
Accessible: Based on criteria within the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). Facility is connected with barrier-free-route-of-travel from an accessible parking area. Due to topography and the primitive nature of some sites, these routes may not be accessible to all with disabilities.
Useable: Facility allows significant access. Some individuals with disabilities may have difficulty and need assistance.
Non-Accessible: Does not meet ADAAG criteria.
Access Recreation Here is a wonderful project in Washington and Oregon.
“Access Recreation [AR] is a Portland, Oregon ad hoc committee that has been developing uniform guidelines for minimum information that should be provided about hiking trails and outdoor recreational facilities, that would benefit hikers with disabilities. These guidelines can be applied to websites, printed materials and at trail sites. …..When put into place, these guidelines will provide the public with easy access to better information on the accessibility of recreational and hiking trails in the states of Oregon and Washington and nationwide.” Georgena Moran, founder and project coordinator, says it is a “two-year project [ends June 2016] and as for now only two trails have been trail mapped the with video accompaniment.” Article by Georgena, “Trails for Everyone”.
Nature For The Blind has a directory of Braille trails for almost every state in the US and for many other countries.
Oregon Hikers Forum is a service of the Trailkeepers of Oregon, a non-profit organization. They provide this marvelous Find a Hike page where you can put in your parameters to look for suitable hikes in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. I chose easy Family hikes with an elevation gain less than 500′ and came up with 186 trails. Limit that to 2 miles or less and you get 81. The Trailkeepers also have the online Oregon Hikers Field Guide for hiking in Oregon and Southern Washington.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails Washington.
“Lots of options for wheelchair, stroller recreation” This is a useful article from The Oregonian, by Terry Richard published March 23, 2008 and updated November 16, 3009.
Washington State Accessible Trails is a privately maintained website that covers a lot accessible outdoor locations in Washington and other states as well.
“Where to hit the trail in a wheelchair” Article in The Seattle Times by Cathy McDonald, last updated April 26, 2016. Interesting article with twelve suggestions of wheelchair accessible trails.