Wheelchair-Accessible Paths on the Appalachian Trail

Heading out on any kind of hike can make for a rather daunting experience. However, the experience is even worse for wheelchair riders, blind and visually impaired people. After all, the physical and mental demands are even more rigorous.

Luckily, there are plenty of mental and physical benefits that you can get from it. Remaining active is one of the best things you can do to improve your physical and mental well being.

There is plenty of scientific evidence that both hiking outdoors and spending more time immersed in nature can minimize stress and reduce risk factors of depression while making one happier.

Below, we will be going over some of the different paths that are wheelchair accessible on the Appalachian Trail. These trails are also suitable for blind and visually impaired people.

Thundering Falls, Vermont

Distance: 0.17 mile

This is easily one of the best portions of the trail that you should be looking at. It provides the very first universal accessible portion on the AT with not only an accessible trail but also wheelchair accessible parking.

The location also offers great views that you can check out of the valley and the falls. For anyone who uses a wheelchair, it takes advantage of the flattened terrain that exists to make it easy to ride on.

It starts at the parking lot on River Road and the trail passes through the river floor plain crossing 900 feet of boardwalk that was built out by the Green Mountain Club.

From there, the trail increases in a slope towards the viewing platform overlooking the falls through an accessible spur trail that was designed and built by the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

From this point, you can expect the AT to continue to go upwards passing through the northern hardwood forest all the way to the Thundering Brook Road which is where you will find a smaller parking lot.

Falls Village, Connecticut

Distance: 0.75 mile

This is another wheelchair-accessible trail with plenty to see. From waterfalls to trail access, you can get a lot of unique experiences setting out on this one.

Perhaps the most intriguing portion of this area is the trail leading back to the main area which is wheel-chair accessible and has you pass by a hydro-electric power station. It is an extremely good design and those who built it should be congratulated for it. The two trails loop together to meet up with the A.T.

The entire path uses compacted gravel with everything from roots of trees to other obstructions being removed. The trail itself is extremely steady and wide and it provides sufficient support for those who are using wheelchairs.

The trail does not disappoint. It features extremely rewarding views of the river, open area views, amazing woodlands, and a variety of other natural highlights making it a must-see.

When you tie it together with the power station that was built where the Falls Village Fairgrounds could be found previously, it’s a great experience.

Bear Mountain Summit, New York

Distance: 0.33 mile

This a trail that is about 1-mile in length and it follows a newer built section of the Appalachian Trail. The first 1/3 of the 1-mile trail is fully wheelchair accessible. Because of this, anyone with a wheelchair is capable of enjoying one of the best sections the trail has to offer. The hike on this trail is considered to be very easy and because of this, it can be recommended for kids of all ages.

The hikers on this trail can walk over the rocky terrain and during it, they will be able to experience some of the best and most stunning views of the Hudson River. This entire hike should take anywhere from an hour to just over it.

Pochuck Creek, New Jersey

Distance: 0.67 mile

This was opened in 2002 and it is the Appalachian Trial’s largest reconstruction project at this time. It features nearly 6,000 feet of boardwalk over perhaps the largest wetland area throughout the trail. It even has a suspension bridge spanning 144-feet high overlooking the Pochuck Creek.

Osborne Tract, Tennessee

Distance: 0.70 mile

This trial head section is featured at Cross Mountain Road. It was originally opened in 2006 and it is located around 3,500 feet in an entirely open meadow. It features full-circle views of the various mountains in the area including a whopping 5,729-foot high Mount Rogers located in Virginia.


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