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 in the sidebar.
Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge is on the Atlantic Flyway and provides important habitat for many species of birds. The 10 units which stretch across 70 miles of Connecticut’s coastline encompass “over 1,000 acres of forest, barrier beach, tidal wetland and fragile island habitats.” Brochure Phone 860-399-2513
The Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook Map has a 1.1 mile loop trail described as a “pleasant stroll” on Trails.com and “good for all skill levels” on AllTrails.com.
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.
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”. Brochure There are phone numbers in the brochure for the four areas crossed by the trail.
Centennial Watershed State Forest
Centennial SF is 15,300 acres providing opportunities for hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and birding.
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. Map
Centennial has an accessible fishing dock. Permits for physically challenged and seniors are free. Phone 203-452-3511
Haley Farm State Park
Haley Farm State Park was part of a parcel granted to John Winthrop, Jr. in 1649. Caleb Haley bought four hundred acres 1869. It was farmed until the 1950’s. There is a wide range of upland and wetland habitat.
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.” Map Phone 860-444-7591
Kent Falls State Park
There is a covered bridge and a hike to the falls, which drop 250′ .
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. Phone 860-927-3238 Map
Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area
Sessions Woods has 700 acres of varied habitat set aside for wildlife.
Brochure & Trail Map Friends of Sessions Woods Phone 860-675-8130
Beaver Pond Trail 2.6 miles gravel trail goes to a 38 acre wetland with beaver dam.
Forest Meadow Trail 0.6 mile gravel trail with demonstrations of wildlife management practices.
Tree ID Trail 0.4 mile featuring 20 native trees and shrubs
These trails are gravel and according to DEEP’s ADA coordinator, probably challenging for wheelchairs. However, the Hunting Map shows a “handicap hunting blind” by the wetlands just off the Beaver Pond Trail.
Sherwood Island State Park – Connecticut’s first state park offers opportunities to picnic, …”swim in Long Island Sound, or view marsh life from the observation platform at Sherwood Island.”
The park has accessible bathrooms, picnic tables and shelter, and surf chairs. The trails look as though they are easy, but call first. Phone 203-226-6983 Map
Hartford Metropolitan District
Lake McDonough Braille Trail “A few hundred yards from Goose Green Beach on the west side of Lake McDonough in Barkhamsted, Connecticut, the blacktop Braille Trail is a fully accessible, self-guided nature trail. With Braille signage and a system of ramps and guide railings for the blind and physically impaired, the trail features more than 30 natural landmarks to read about and touch, such as trees and rocks that are indigenous to Southern New England.”
Long Wharf Nature Preserve (New Haven Land Trust)
The upland is a “grassland and a small woodland dominated by tall cottonwood trees.” ” The tidal wetland and dune area accreted over the 50 years since I-95 was constructed. At low tide, the preserve encompasses approximately 15 acres, from mud flat to dune to salt marsh to upland.” Phone 203-562-6655 facebook
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
“Spanning Easthampton and Northampton, Arcadia’s diverse terrain (forest, meadows, grasslands, marsh, and wetlands) attracts an extraordinary variety of wildlife. You will also find a thriving population of wildflowers…” Phones 413-584-3009, 800-710-4550.
There is an accessible trail, but the website doesn’t give its length.
Audubon Center Bent of the River
The center is 700 acres of varied habitat on the Atlantic Flyway. More than a mile runs along the Pomperaug River and the area is a designated Important Bird Area. Phone 203-264-5098 Trail Map & Brochure
? There are three trails, the Althea’s Meadow Loop 0.5 mile, Beaver Loop 0.25 mile, and Medici Loop 0.5 mile. all described as “flat.” They might be easy enough for you, but better call first.
Birdcraft Sanctuary – Audubon
Six acres of “Upland deciduous forest with bush and shrub plantings including a small pond.” The “pond and gardens … have been planted to attract birds and butterflies.” Phone 203-259-0416
“At the Birdcraft Sanctuary, Wheels in the Woods funded a complete renovation of the trail, which circles the property and crosses a small pond and wetland.” from article in Fairfield Citizen.
This sixty-two acre wildlife sanctuary has “a variety of habitats including fields, forests, ponds, and a stream. The sanctuary is crisscrossed by about two miles of trails, which also extend into an adjacent 11.8-acre property owned by the Town of Westport. ” Phone 203-557-4400 Trail Descriptions Trail Map
Wheels in the Woods IV “… follows the edge where forest and field meet, an excellent habitat for many species of insects, birds, and mammals.”
Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust
Flanders holds more than 2,100 acres of open space in trust, including seven nature preserves and sanctuaries. Phone 203-263-3711 The trails are not wheelchair accessible, but trails are mostly short and some may be easy enough for you. Call first.
? Van Vleck Farm and Nature Sanctuary “Landscape includes stone walls, fields, meadows, forests, wetlands, marshes, streams and ponds.” Trail monitor Dave says the trails are level for the most part. Map
? Hetzel Refuge 54 acres”…includes woodlands, hay fields, conifer plantations, swamps and man-made ponds.” Map
-Leavenworth Preserve 125 acres of wildlife habitat with “low-impact trail system.” Map
– Fleming Preserve 28.5 acres with “…forests, meadows, trails, apple orchard, stone walls and an overlook.” Map
– Whittemore Sanctuary 686 acres “Ecological habitats include woodlands, streams, ponds, a large bog and abutting lake.” Map
Legion Pool and the adjoining Joseph Nesteriak Memorial Nature Trail are owned and maintained by the Seymour Land Conservation Trust. “The trails of the Legion Pool area consist of three interconnected loops – Legion Pool loop, Chatfield walking track (owned by the city of Seymour) and the Joseph Nesteriak Memorial Nature Trail. Hikers have the option of walking one or more trails. All are relatively flat and are handicapped accessible. ” Phone 203-464-4345 Guide
Joseph Nesteriak Memorial Nature Trail loop – 0.9 mile, including the Legion Pool loop and the Chatfield Park walking track.
Legion Pool Loop – 0.25 mile
Milford Point Coastal Center – Audubon
“Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center at Milford Point is located on an 8.4-acre barrier beach, next to the 840-acre Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area at the mouth of the Housatonic River. ” “The Coastal Center’s grounds encompass the 8-acre Smith-Hubbell Wildlife Refuge and Bird Sanctuary, a boardwalk and three other observation platforms, including a 70-foot covered tower for panoramic vistas. ” Phone 203-878-7440
“Wheels in the Woods funded improvements to an access ramp that leads to the beach at the adjacent Smith-Hubbell Wildlife Refuge, one of the wildest and most biologically-diverse habitats on Long Island Sound. The Coastal Center also has two wheelchairs designed for use on the beach.”
Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary – Audubon
Next to the Audubon Center at Fairfield, the Larson Sanctuary “features streams, ponds, forest, and fields that are managed for their diverse plant and animal communities. There are seven miles of trails and boardwalks with interpretive signage.” Phone 203-259-6305
Edna Strube Chiboucas Special Use Trail. 1 mile trail which circles the sanctuary “along the edge of a meadow and over several streams and swamps. Interpretive signs stand at intervals along the way, and there are numerous benches for sitting.”
White Memorial Conservation Center
Located in northwestern Connecticut, the White Memorial Foundation and Conservation Center has 4,000 acres of forest, fields, and wetlands. There are 40 miles of trails and a nature museum.
Detailed Map Overall Map Trails Phone 860-567-0857
0.3 mile Trail of the Senses/Braille Trail Interpretive plaques along the trail “…encourage you to smell scents in the air, feel changes in the ground, and take part in other sensory activities in order to discover the natural world. ” “There are some waterbars and roots on the trail, so assistance may be needed to navigate.”
? Interpretive Nature Trail 0.5 mile loop “While relatively flat, the trail does include boardwalks, heavily rooted areas, and a slight incline at the end. It can be completed in 45 minutes -1 hour.”
? Little Pond Boardwalk Trail loop 1.2 mile elevated wooden walkway “…that allows visitors to explore the wetland environment around Little Pond.” Although the boardwalk is easy walking, getting on and off it may require some steps.
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.
Nature For The Blind has a directory of Braille trails for almost every state in the US and for many other countries.
Check with the Wheels In The Woods Foundation for any new trail projects.