Connecticut 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 have some first-hand recommendations. 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.
Air Line State Park Trail – From the site: “Stretching across eastern Connecticut from Thompson to East Hampton, this linear trail dates from the 1870s, and today draws walkers, hikers, horseback riders and bikers from across the state for the views, the relaxation and the solitude.”
“This park is generally not handicapped accessible; however some sections in East Hampton, Colchester and Hebron are wheelchair accessible”
Centennial Watershed State Forest – The Saugatuck Universal Access Trail is a 500 feet long trail that ends at a platform overlooking the Saugatuck Reservoir. It is open from sunrise to sunset. Its construction was funded by the Wheels In The Woods Foundation.
Centennial has an accessible fishing dock. Permits for physically challenged and seniors are free.
Connecticut State Parks and Forests – list with links to maps and information. There is no rating of trail difficulty.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – Info on accessibility in Connecticut state parks and forests. From their website: “Accessible parking and picnic tables can be found at all park and forest recreation areas. Public buildings at most state parks are also accessible. The conversion process is continuing with upgraded facilities currently in design for Hopeville Pond, Mashamoquet Brook, Quaddick, and Sleeping Giant State Parks; and Pachaug and Shenipsit State Forests. In 1996, Stratton Brook State Park in Simsbury was the first to have a total retrofit making all park facilities (parking, trails, restrooms, picnic areas, beach) accessible.” See the site for more information on camping, beach wheelchairs, and fishing platforms.
Haley Farm State Park – The Haley Farm ” 0.8 mile bike trail winds its way through the scenic old shoreline farm. The Haley Farm Bike Trail, which is wheelchair accessible, is part of a 7 1/2 mile town-owned bikeway routed from Mystic to Groton on local roadways.”
Hammonasset Beach State Park has over 2 miles of beach. There are surf chairs, accessible bathrooms, boardwalk, camping, picnic tables and Nature Center .
Kent Falls State Park – The 1/4 mile trail to the falls is described as wheelchair accessible on the website, although some reviewers call it steep. There are accessible bathrooms and picnic tables. Out-of-state fee is $15.
Sherwood Island State Park – The park has accessible bathrooms, picnic tables and shelter, and surf chairs.
Sleeping Giant State Park – The 3 mile loop Tower Trail at Hampton is referred to as very easy by some and steep by others. One reviewer describes it as “Broad, gravel trail, appropriate for a stroller.”
The first half mile (17 stops on the guide) of the 1 1/2 mile loop self-guiding Nature Trail is “easy, level walking, and can be done by anyone, even small children or elderly persons.” but then becomes steep and difficult in places. Trail map
Long Wharf Nature Preserve (New Haven Land Trust) – Parts of this area are wheelchair accessible, but not all.
Town of Manchester’s Union Park Accessible Trail – “This short trail system features an accessible stone dust path that winds through this small park on the south side of North School Street (across from Robertson Park and School). Encompassing about five and a half acres, and including a pond with fishing pier, used for fishing and non-motorized boating, the park is designed with special features for wheelchair users and the visually impaired including signs in raised-braille that give clues to the special nature of the plant and animal life at that location.
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary – In North Hampton, MA, the description from this website says, “Arcadia has a nice variety of terrain for a place that’s relatively small and all the trails are flat and easily managed.”
BerkshireHiking.com a guide to hiking in the Berkshire Mountains and Litchfield Hills Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York
General Hiking Guides –
Here are two guides to trails in Rhode Island and adjacent states.Trails & Walks in Rhode Island Auntie Beak’s Place They both have good descriptions and lots of photographs, but are not designed for people with any kind of handicap. If you want to know more about a specific trail, you could research it on these websites.
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.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails in Connecticut.
Check with the Wheels In The Woods Foundation for any new trail projects.