Texas 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, although 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.
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge Phone 512-339-9432 Map Trails
Warbler Vista Trail Map Doeskin Ranch Trail Map
The only mention of accessibility on the refuge website is an accessible photo blind on Post Oak Creek Trail and an accessible sunset deck at Warbler Vista reached via the Ridgeline Trail. Both these trails are described as having “moderate” grades (5% to 8%) and “native” surfaces. There are numerous trails described as “gentle”.
? Pond and Prairie Trail at Doeskin Ranch is 0.38 mile and “gentle” with a cross slope of only 1.5. The surface is “native/paved”. Better call to learn where it is safe for you to go.
Big Bend National Park Phone 432-477-2251 Maps Maps of Chisos Basin and Rio Grande Village with trails. Accessibility
Panther Path 50 yard loop “self-guiding nature trail at Panther Junction, is rough, but level and useable by people in wheelchairs. An accompanying brochure explains Chihuahuan Desert plants.
Window View Trail 0.3 mile in the Chisos Basin “provides outstanding views of the window formation and the Chisos Mountains.”
Rio Brande Village Nature Trail Boardwalk. 0.75 mile loop. “The first 100 yards is wheelchair accessible and crosses a boardwalk through a spring-fed wetland”. The trail is an “excellent place for observing birds and aquatic plants and animals.” There is a self-guiding booklet.
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail 0.5 mile round trip “On this easy desert stroll you will see remnants of human settlement and typical Chihuahuan Desert habitat. A shady oasis with cottonwood trees and tables at Dugout Wells provides a good area for picnicking and bird watching.”
Big Thicket National Preserve Phone 409-951-6800 Accessibility Map Trails
Quite a few of the trails at Big Thicket look as they might be easy walking, but call first to be sure.
? Kirby Nature Trail map This self-guided trail is not described on the website as wheelchair accessible, but is labeled so on the general park map.
Pitcher Plant Trail map 3/4 mile “…boardwalk through the savannah provides easy access for viewing several types of carnivorous plants.”
Sundew Trail Map 1.0 mile loop “…a great place to see birds and wildflowers.”
Guadalupe Mountains National Park Accessibiity Phone 915-828-3251 Map Brochure on Day Hikes
Pinery trail 0.7mile “paved trail leads to the ruins of a mid-1800s Butterfield stagecoach station and features exhibits about the plants of the Chihuahuan Desert.”
Manzanita Spring Trail 0.5 mile trail “leads to Manzanita Spring and through the orchard once belonging to the Smith family.”
? Indian Meadow Nature Trail 0.6 mile round-trip. Rated “easy”, but call first to be sure.
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Phone 956-784-7500 Map Trails Map Accessibility
? The longest of the 12 walking trails at this refuge is just 2 miles. Call to find out if some are easy enough for you.
Tour loop 7 miles ADA compliant. “Accommodations are possible for wheechair users on the tram (inquire at the Visitor Center).”
Chachalaca Trail 0.5 miles
Texas State Parks and Historic Sites with Wheelchair-Friendly Facilities
This list with links is a great source of information for wheelchair users. It includes fishing piers and boat ramps.
Wheelchair Accessible Wildlife Viewing Sites in Texas – This includes state as well as federal areas.
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park Phone 956-584-9156 Map
“As part of the World Birding Center, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is a world-class destination for bird-watching. ….Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park alone has an impressive list of 358 species recorded within the park’s boundaries. ”
Rio Grande Trail 1.8 miles loop. A .2 mile round trip takes you to the accessible two-story high Hawk Tower for a “bird’s-eye view of the canopy as well as a peek into Mexico.”
Kiskadee Trail 0.4 mile one way
Green Jay Trail 0.3 mile one way
Brazos Bend State Park Phone 979-553-5101 Trails Map
Creekfield Lake Nature Trail 0.5 mile paved trail in wetland. “…features along this trail include a series of interpretive panels with tactile bronzes of wetland wildlife, and an accessible boardwalk and observation deck for wildlife viewing, rest areas with shaded benches, and an audio-described tour (available for checkout from the park headquarters).”
Lake Somerville State Park Phone 979-535-7763 Trails Map
Honeybee Hill Trail at Birch Creek 0.44 mile
Palo Duro Canyon State Park “The second largest canyon in the country lies in the heart of the Texas Panhandle.” It offers a “a myriad of recreational opportunities, rich history and colorful geology.”
Pioneer Nature trail 0.49 mile loop a “family-friendly trail that loops down to the river and back.”
Sunflower 1.17 one way. A “shady, family-friendly trail.”
There are other “easy” trails. Call first to see if they are suitable for you. Phone 806-488-2227 Interactive Trails Map Trails Map Facilities Map Guide
Sea Rim State Park Phone 409-917-2559 Trails Map
There are two boardwalks which should be fine for wheelchairs once you get on them. Please call first to be sure there are no obstacles. There are no claims for accessibility on the website.
? Gambusia Marsh Nature Trail 0.75 miles and Dune Boardwalk 0.1 mile
Fredericksburg Nature Center in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park Phone (city hall) 830-997-7521 Map
Handicapped Accessible Trail 600 feet “….runs along a bluff overlooking the lower section of the Vista Loop Trail, passing the Butterfly Garden, the bird blind, and bird-feeding station.”
Cedar Ridge Preserve Phone 972-709-7784 Trail Map Trail Mileage Trail Profile
Managed by Audubon Dallas, Cedar Ridge “is a natural habitat of 600 acres featuring about 9 miles of trails, native trees, grasses and wildflowers, butterfly gardens, limited picnic areas and wild mammals, birds, insects and reptiles” It is 20 minutes from downtown Dallas. Although there is only one wheelchair accessible trail, several others look as if they might be fairly easy. The scale of the trail profiles makes them look much steeper than they are. Call to learn more.
Little Bluestem Trail 0.25 mile
Edith L. Moore Sanctuary Phone 713-932-1639 Map
Maintained by the Houston Audubon Society, the sanctuary is 18 acres of hardwood and pine forest and freshwater habitats. The sanctuary “provides a special place to experience nature in our city. The sanctuary is open to all for relaxation and rejuvenation within its natural surroundings. Birdwatchers, hikers and families are welcome. The trails are well marked, evenly graded and easily traversed. There are both mulched and board-walked paths. The log cabin has wheel chair ramps and an accessible restroom facility. There are two trails that are not wheelchair-safe – these are the ‘bumpy trail’ on the north end of the property along Rummel Creek and ‘west bank trail’ on the east side of the pond.”
Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney Phone 972-562-5566 Trail Map
Wood Duck Trail 0.9 “…best view of the wetlands, partly shaded”
Bluestem Trail 0.5 mile “…best view of the prairie, partly shaded”
Laughlin Loop Trail 0.5 mile jogging stroller friendly, partly shaded”
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Phone 713.681.8433 Map Trails
Palmetto Multi-sensory Trail 0.33 mile loop “…this trail offers many interpretative stops that educate visitors about the natural world here at the Arboretum.”
Alice Brown Loop/ Ravine Overlook 0.5 mile “...this short loop parallels the driveway and leads to a small pond. Along the way, be sure to stop at the Ravine Overlook Deck where you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the forest from the canopy above to a stream below.”
There are several other trails which look as if they might be easy walking. Call the center to learn more.
Lower Colorado River Authority Parks
McKinney Roughs Nature Park Phone 512-303-5073 Trail Map Trail Hotline 512-578-7427
Ridge Trail 0.6 mile “…an ADA trail along a box canyon, providing lovely views of the park and an easy excursion for families with children.”
“Other trails range from easy to challenging….” The trail guide does not say how easy the trails are, so call to plan where you can go.
Westcave Preserve Website Phone 830-825-3442 Map of Upland Trails
“Upland Trail is Wheelchair & Stroller Friendly from Parking Lot to the Ahrns Grove” Distance is not given, but it appears to be no more than about 300′.
Miller Springs Nature Center Phone at U.S. Army Engineers, Belton Dam 254-939-1829 or the Miller Springs Alliance 254-933-7487 Trails and Map This area has been damaged by floods. Call ahead to be sure it is open and to check the condition of the trails. I have included a lot of trails marked as easy, but you should check first before heading out on them.
Rim Trail 0.7 mile “… affords wonderful views of the Leon River valley, the limestone wall of the new canyon carved by the 1992 flood and the mural wall. Wildflowers are plentiful anytime there is sufficient rainfall.”
Armadillo Trail 0.41 miles. “….level trail twists through pleasant mountain cedar forest through open meadows and over exposed limestone shelves, and forms a loop back to the Rim Trail.”
North Trail 0.38 mile “A beautiful trail takes you through upland forest and along a scenic limestone ledge with a great view showing prairie flowers and the mural wall. The southern part of the trail is handicapped accessible and provides access to many other trails via the walk across the spillway.”
Beaver Ponds Trail 0.73 mile “…wanders through the forest at the top of the lower bluff.” The trail makes several creek crossings – you might check with the Park to learn if there are obstacles for you.
South River Trail 1.4 miles Open to bikers, joggers and hikers. Goes through meadows, forest and prairie.
Prairie Loop 1.2 miles “….travels through prairie environments for more than half of its length. The southern and part of the western path meanders through lush forests and pleasant meadows. Just before sunset one often sees numbers of deer in the eastern areas.”
Old Forest Loop 0.44 mile Goes through undisturbed old forest growth.
San Antonio Botanic Garden
“With something always new to see at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, each season brings a variety of color and texture in the plant world.” The 38 acre garden is accessible to visitors with disabilities.
Texas Native Trail area is on 11 acres and has more than 250 species of plants in plant communities characteristic of the Hill Country (Edwards Plateau), East Texas Pineywoods, and South Texas.
There is a Braille Trail planted to engage the senses of touch and smell. Thank you Marti N. for telling me about it.
Wheelchairs are available on a first-come basis at the front desk.
Map Phone 210-536-1400
San Antonio Botanical Garden 210-536-1400 Map
The Garden has trails through reproductions of native habitat. Two of these are described as “challenging or unpaved”, but the website states that: “The Botanical Garden is accessible to people with disabilities and they are encouraged to participate in all activities. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the front desk.”
South Padre Island Phone 956-761-6801 Map can be downloaded from the website.
This is part of the World Birding Center. “The nature center offers more than 3,300 linear feet of boardwalk, five bird blinds, and a five story tower with spectacular views of the Laguna Madre, beaches and dunes of South Padre Island, The Gulf of Mexico and the South Padre Island skyline.” “Our board walks and wetlands will provide you with up-close viewing of spectacular wetland birds, migrating songbirds and the island’s dazzling butterfly population.”
According to David and Jan Dauphin on their very helpful site, “The Butterfly Garden, all Boardwalks, and everything on the inside are handicapped-accessible.”
The Houston Audubon Society is a great resource for information on accessible places in that area. Thank you, Betty H.
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 Texas.