Minnesota 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.
Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge From OhRanger.com: there are …”three walking trails: two are universally accessible trails, being 0.5-mile and 0.7-mile, and another is 0.25-miles. There is a wildlife observation blind along the two longer trails. Headquarters Hiking Trail is a half-mile, self-guided, foot trail.” Brochure
Chippewa National Forest
The Norway Beach Interpretive Trail is 1.5 mile long. Photos of it look as though it would be wheelchair accessible, but I am not finding much information about it. Call 218.335.8600 to learn more and to be sure it is open.
The Heartland State Trail “is a 47 mile paved multiple use trail between Park Rapids and Cass Lake. The trail is located entirely on a level abandoned railroad grade, except for a four mile segment north of Walker which is on sharply rolling terrain. ” From TrailLink: it “…runs past a number of lakes, rivers and streams, many of which are directly accessible from the pathway. ….. towering white pine, spruce fir and hardwood forests offer shade and habitat for various animals, including raccoon, red fox, whitetail deer, beaver and porcupine. The trail also skirts the edge of both Paul Bunyan State Forest and Chippewa National Forest, home to a large population of bald eagles.”
Pipestone National Monument
“For countless generations, American Indians have quarried the red pipestone found at this site. These grounds are sacred to many people because the pipestone quarried here is carved into pipes used for prayer. Many believe that the pipe’s smoke carries one’s prayer to the Great Spirit. The traditions of quarrying and pipemaking continue here today.”
Accessibility Phone 507-825-5464 x 214 Map
? The Circle Trail 0.75 mile paved walking trail through tallgrass prairie and woodlands that “…is not ADA-compliant, it may be wheelchair accessible with some assistance.”
Superior National Forest Here is a Hiking Brochure for the Forest. Accessibility is not mentioned, although there are some short interpretive trails which might be easy, at least.
Vermilion Falls is about 27 miles northeast of Orr. The trail is 0.25 miles round trip. “The trail and the observation deck overlooking the falls are accessible.”
The 1000′ White Pine Trail sounds as if it might be wheelchair accessible, but the Forest Service only says it is “wide and graveled”. It goes through “majestic” white pines.
The North Dark River Trail goes along the east bank of the Dark river through a pine plantation as is described as “generally flat.” ironrange.org describes it as “usable and accessible by people of all ages.”
Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs is “…218,054 acres, including 84,000 acres of water, many miles of undeveloped shoreline and hundreds of islands. The park’s 55-mile northern boundary is the international border between the United States and Canada…” “This area, where the southern boreal forest meets and mixes with the northern hardwood forest, is widely known for its wildlife viewing opportunities.” You might hear wolves or see bald eagles, loons, moose, and otters.
Phone 218-283-6600 Accessibility Trails and Overlooks Map
Voyageurs National Park Association
Oberholtzer Trail Map goes from the “Rainy Lake Visitor Center to two overlooks to see the diversity of forest and wetland types in the park. This trail is wheelchair accessible for the first 1/4 mile.”
Kabetogama Lake Overlook is a 0.2 mile walk to a view of Kabetogama Lake.
Here is a website listing 29 Minnesota Sate Parks which have wheelchair accessible trails. The site also lists accessible campsites and/or lodging. The trail descriptions are minimal and if there is more than one in a park, only the total mileage is given.
If you have Minnesota disability license plates or a rear-view mirror hang tag, or if you have a Federal Access Pass, you can get a reduced rate special annual vehicle permit with proof of disability and proof of vehicle ownership.
This is a list of Wildlife Management Areas that have accessible features. These are primarily blinds and viewing platforms, but wheelchairs can access mowed trails, boardwalk, and observation deck at Sand Prairie and the
Two mile Schultz walking trail is maintained for wheelchairs at Red Lake Wildlife Management Area .
Big Bog State Recreation Area is a 500-square-mile peat bog. A mile-long boardwalk, “enables visitors to get a first-hand look at the unique plant and animal life of this rare resource.”
Gooseberry Falls State Park has a one mile accessible trail from the visitor center to the main falls area.
Grand Portage State Park has an accessible trail and boardwalk leading to the High Falls Overlook.
Douglas State Trail is a 12.5 paved rail/trail which “crosses outstanding rural scenery, traversing some of the richest agricultural land in Minnesota. The trail begins in northwestern Rochester, travels through the small town of Douglas … and terminates in Pine Island.” Map “trail segment between the towns of Douglas and Pine Island will be closed beginning October 22 to replace two trail bridges. There is no detour without riding on roads. The anticipated completion date is December 5.”
The Matthew Lourey State Trail is an 80 mile multi-use, natural and gravel surfaced trail that links St. Croix State Park with Chengwatana, St. Croix, and Nemadji state forests. It is mostly level, but none of it is paved.
Willard Munger State Trail is an 86 mile collection of mostly paved trails, many former railroad beds. Map There are two segments: Hinckley – Duluth segment and the Alex Laveau Memorial Trail.
Root River State Trail is a paved 42 mile rail/trail between the towns of Fountain and Rushford. The trail is ” generally level and wheelchair accessible. However, the eastern segment between Vinegar Ridge and Houston is more challenging than the western segment with a rather steep, half-mile segment that may not be suitable for all users.” Map The trail provides views of the limestone bluffs of the Root River Valley. Wildlife is abundant.
Wild River State Park lies along the St. Croix River. There is an accessible Old Logging Trail (map) which “runs from the Trail Center to Visitor Center, then to picnic area and past the camper cabins to the campground.”
Here is a list of other trails in the Park, some of which are classed as “easy”.
City of Fridley
Springbrook Nature Center has “127 acres of native prairies, oak and aspen forests, oak savannah, and extensive wetlands.” There is a “½ mile of boardwalk over wetlands, [and] a paved handicap accessible trail”. Call 763-572-3588 for information.
Fatbirder is a comprehensive website with information about birding just about anywhere. Sue Levy, the contributor of the Minnesota information gives useful information on accessibility of birding sites and trails.
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 wheelchair accessible trails in Minnesota.
The organization Wheels-On-Trails is an outdoor program in the Duluth area that “tries to involve people with all types of disabilities in outdoor trails and camping activities for all ages.”