Michigan 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 to learn about more accessible natural areas from those of you 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.
Hiawatha National Forest
Nahma Marsh Trail is a 0.3 mile linear trail with broad vistas of the marsh. “This hard surfaced fully accessible trail ends at a two-tiered viewing platform where an assortment of wetland wildlife can be seen.”
Colwell Lake Hiking Trail “This 2 mile long loop trail meanders along the edge of Colwell Lake and is surfaced to be fully accessible to people with mobility impairments.”
Monocle Lake Interpretive Trail The first 1000 feet of this 2 mile trail, including an elevated boardwalk with a wildlife viewing platform, is wheelchair accessible.
? There are a great many short day hiking trails in Hiawatha National Forest described as “easy”, but I can’t tell if they really qualify for this website.
Isle Royale National Park
“Isle Royale National Park is a remote island wilderness in the middle of Lake Superior. It is only accessible by ferry, seaplane, or private watercraft.”
Service dogs must have a permit.
? Windigo Nature Trail 1.2 mile The Windigo Area Guide says the self-guided loop trail crosses fern-filled cedar lowlands, and hardwood forests of maple and birch. AllTrails says it is good for “all skill levels.” However, the Park site cautions that Isle Royale terrain is “rough and uneven.”
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks offers sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfall, lakes and forest. Accessibility As described in the Disabled Traveler’s Companion.
A Braille introduction to the park can be downloaded from the Accessiblity page.
There are trails described under Day Hikes which sound pretty easy. Call first to be sure. Phone 906-387-3700
Sand Point Marsh Trail 0.5 mile loop along a boardwalk through a wetland.
Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear has sandy beaches, high bluffs, forests, inland lakes, and unique flora and fauna. High dunes afford spectacular views across Lake Michigan.
As described in The Disabled Traveler’s Companion. Map Accessibility
? There are several trails which might be easy for you. Call to find out. Phone 231-326-4700
Duneside Trail is a 0.9 mile round trip interpretive trail to a deck and a small pond. It begins at the north end of the picnic area and parking lot. It “winds through an open field at the base of the dunes, then through the forest to a wetland.” Trail map and guide.
? There are some hikes on South Manitou Island which sound easy, but call first to learn about them.
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail “Currently the trail runs almost 22 miles between Empire and Bohemia Road, connecting to park attractions and the town of Glen Arbor along the way. Most of the trail is asphalt, but a 3-mile section which goes through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District north of Glen Arbor is crushed stone.”
? Good Harbor Bay Trail 2.8 mile loop which might be too long for you, but maybe you could do part of it. “Flat, wet in places” There is a short boardwalk and a footbridge.
Hartwick Pines State Park has the paved 1.25 mile loop Old Growth Trail which takes you into the park’s “49-acre tract of virgin timber, the largest continuous stand of old growth white pines in the Lower Peninsula.” I am pretty sure it is wheelchair accessible, but you should call 989-348-7068 to be sure. If you discover it is not, please let me know. Here is Grayings website describing the park.
Maybury State Park has five miles of paved trails and six miles of “unpaved hiking trails meander through wooded areas and around a large pond”. I don’t see any claims that any of these are super easy or wheelchair accessible, but you could call 248-349-8390 to ask.
Port Crescent State Park The Dunes Nature Trail is a 3/4 mile interpretive trail with stops describing dune landscape, history and wildlife. “The trailhead also features an audio message repeater with messages, benefitting the visually impaired.” Here is the park described and photographs of the trail in a nice blog, “The Midwest Guest” and reviewed in Trip Advisor.
Waterloo Recreation Area describes a “network of seven different trails that traverse a total of 14 miles” in the Waterloo-Discovery Center area. “Of these trails, the “Rockway” loop is the only trail that meets ADAAG standards for universal accessibility.” I can not find Rockway on their maps! Try calling headquarters at 734-475-8307 to learn where it is.
City of Davison’s Black Creek Nature Trail is a 1.6 mile paved path. As described in TrailLink
The City of Petoskey maintains the Bear River Valley Recreation area where there is a paved path and a dirt trail on either side of the river. Trip Advisor reviews . Thank you to Tim Knutsen for this information: “The 10′ wide, paved non-motorized trail on the west side of the river was … designed and built to ADA standards, providing an accessible walking surface about 8/10ths of a mile long, that actually climbs 50′ in the first 1/2 mile. It’s a unique opportunity for people of all abilities to view a natural stream as it makes a dramatic descent to Lake Michigan.”
Grass River Natural Area Rail Trail Phone 231-533-8314 or 231-533-8576 Trail Map
Antrim County’s Grass River Natural Area, south of Lake Bellaire, has a system of six short trails through wetlands and woodland. From Trails.com: “Hundreds of species of plants, 65 species of birds, 35 species of fish, and 33 species of reptiles and amphibians make this area a naturalist’s dream.”
The Sedge Meadow boardwalk trail 0.75 mile is highly recommended by Trails.com
The 0.43 mile Fern Loop Trail is accessible and has a guide rope and braille interpretive signs for visually impaired hikers.
Most of the trails are boardwalks or easy walking, but you might call to be sure of conditions.
Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries Michigan Audubon’s phone number is 517-641-4277. You might want to inquire first before going out to these trails as I am not sure just how easy they are.
Bernard W. Baker Wildlife Sanctuary has the Iva E. Doty Native Wildflower Trail, a one mile self-guided trail. The trail, “with an extensive boardwalk, winds through a wet meadow, past a quiet pond and woodland creek and along the edge of a flood plain forest.” A self-guiding brochure is available at the Doty Shelter.
Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary has a loop nature trail and an observation site. The observation site is wheelchair accessible and I think the trail would be easy. This is a great place to see cranes in the fall. Map
Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary According to the book “Best Easy Day Hikes Grand Rapids, Michigan” by Kevin Revolinski, there is an easy grass and packed dirt 1.9 lollypop trail here going through wetlands, hardwood forest and prairie.
MichiganTrailMaps.com is a great resource for finding trails. You can filter for difficulty, length, paved and many other parameters. Unfortunately, there is no filter for accessibility, and of course, “easy” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. I came up with 11 trails which were described as easy, paved, and in parks.
Nature For The Blind has a directory of Braille trails for almost every state in the US and for many other countries.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists some 88 wheelchair accessible trails in Michigan. Most of these are primarily bicycle trails and are through combinations of urban, suburban, and rural environments. I would love some feedback on any of these or segments of them which provide an escape to nature for disabled walkers or riders.