New Mexico 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.
El Malpais National Conservation Area Hiking Trails Brochure Call the BLM at 505-287-7911 or the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center 505-876-2783 for information about both these trails. The brochures are not clear about how easy the footing is on them.
?The 1/2 mile round trip hike to La Ventana Natural Arch is described as “relatively easy”.
?The Ranger Station Nature Trail is a 1 1/4 mile loop with an elevation gain of 125 feet.
El Malpais National Monument – Here is accessibility information from the National Park Service.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument 505-331-6259 Trail Guide
“The Cave Loop Trail is 1.2 miles long, rated as easy and portions are ADA accessible” It is not clear as to what portions so do call ahead. Reviews on Trip Advisor.
“The Veterans Memorial Trail is a 1-mile long loop trail, rated as very easy and is wheel chair accessible. The Veterans Memorial is located at the end of a 3 mile long gravel surfaced road overlooking picturesque Peralta Canyon and Jemez Mountain peaks. “
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument Trail Descriptions (towards bottom of webpage)
Rio Grande Visitor Center 575-751-4899
Upper Gorge (Wild Rivers) Trails Map
Wild Rivers Nature Trail “is an easy interpretive loop along the canyon rims of the Red River and the Rio Grande at La Junta Point. The trail is approximately 1/2 mile long.”
Rinconada Loop Trail is a 6.1 mile loop which you could do parts of from the campgrounds. A wheelchair user would probably need some assistance.
Chawalauna Overlook is about 1/4 mile from the parking lot and according to the very helpful Monument manager, John Bailey, has a lovely rim view.
Trails leading north and south from the Wild Rivers Visitor Center have gravel in places, making them probably too difficult for wheelchair users.
Pescado Trail from the Visitor Center is pretty easy for the first 1/2 mile and takes you to a great view of the river gorge. A wheelchair user might need assistance.
Lower Gorge (Orilla Verde) Trails Map
The first 1 1/4 mile of the 9 mile West Rim Trail going south from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (High Bridge) is easy, flat, and smooth. There is a bench which would make a good turn-around spot for limited walkers.
La Vista Verde is 1.3 miles and easy, but does have 6 steps near the beginning.
Taos Valley Overlook Trails Map
Trader’s Trail is an easy 1.8 mile with a steady, not too steep slope.
Santa Fe National Forest Thanks to Clifton Russell for suggestions of accessible trails in Santa Fe National Forest.
There is a paved trail with fishing access spots along the San Antonio River at San Antonio Campground. Thank you, Katie Watson, for the reference.
San Diego Canyon Overlook site in the Jemez Ranger District.
There is a paved trail to the overlook as well as ADA restroom.
East Fork Trail (Forest trail 137) just off NM State Highway 4. Also in Jemez Ranger District. “This [10 mile] trail would be suitable for elderly, but maybe too challenging for wheel chairs.” It sounds as if parts of it would be OK. “From Jemez Falls it’s another mile to the East Fork Trailhead. This segment of trail is an easier walk, although still moving uphill. From the East Fork Trailhead to the Las Conchas Trailhead the hiking becomes easier with rolling terrain.” I suggest you contact Forest Headquarters (505) 438-5300 for advice on the parts appropriate for you.
Cowles Fishing Pond in the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District. “An ADA accessible trail around both ponds was completed on 5/25/2013.”
Here are some accessible picnic and camping areas that Clifton Russell brought to my attention:
Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District
Española Ranger District
Black Canyon Campground
Big Tesuque Campground
Socorro Nature Area Interpretive Trail Guide
The first .11 mile of this self-guiding nature walk goes to the pond and is wheelchair accessible. On the guide, there are two loop trails which add up to about a mile and are very easy. According to the manager, you could possibly do them in a wheelchair, if you had help getting through some soft patches. Call 575-835-0412 for information.
Valley of Fires Recreation Area Described in Americansouthwest.net
Malpais Nature Trail “….when you walk through the nature trail there are many varieties of flowers, cactus, trees and bushes typical of the Chihuahuan desert. There is a juniper that is said to be 400 years old. The lava is similar to Hawaiian lava, jagged and rippled, and most of the lava field is a wilderness study area. The self-guided …. Trail is paved for 1 /3 mile, fully accessible for individuals with disabilities. Interpretive brochures are available at the trailhead near the group shelter. In addition to the flora, fauna abound. There are bats, roadrunners, quail, cottontails,lizards, great horned owls, burrowing owls, buzzards, hawks, gnat catchers, cactus wrens, sparrows and golden eagles, a virtual birdwatcher’s paradise.” Call 575-648-2241 for information.
Accessible Features in New Mexico State Parks
The following parks are listed as having accessible trails:
Bottomless Lakes, Devil’s Inkwell Campground Trail
Cerrillos Hills, Village View Trail
Eagle Nest Lake, Visitor Center picnic area trail
Elephant Butte Lake, West Lake Shore Trail from Monticello Campground
Leasburg Dam, Riverside Trail
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, Zoo Trails
Mesilla Valley Bosque, Overlook & Demonstration Garden Trails
Rio Grande Nature Center, Aldo Leopold & Paseo del Bosque Trails
Sugarite Canyon, Chicorica Boardwalk Trail
Los Alamos County Trail System Map
Los Alamos Nature Center opened May, 2015 and is already getting rave reviews on Trip Advisor. The Pajarito Environmental Education Center operates from here and has an intriguing program called “Gentle Walks”. Give them a call 505-662-0460 see if any of these walks are within your capabilities. The Los Alamos Trails App can be downloaded on Apple products, and will soon be available for Android, as well.
Katherine Watson, executive director, writes that “…the only really accessible trail in Los Alamos is the paved Canyon Rim Trail. ” Clifton Russell also mentioned this trail: “In Los Alamos County, but not on the Forest, there is a very nice paved trail as you go into Los Alamos called the Canyon Rim trail. It is about 2 miles long and goes along the south side of the highway by the Airport. Lovely views over the canyon, wide, mostly level. A visitor would see the signs by the airport runway as they drive into town.”
Good coverage of accessible natural areas in New Mexico: AccessibleNatureTravel.com
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 New Mexico.