Get out and enjoy nature with these wheelchair-accessible trails in Maine

Scattered throughout the hilly, rocky wilderness of Maine are dozens of smooth, wide trails that have been carefully constructed to provide people of all abilities access to the great outdoors.

These trails were designed for people who use wheelchairs, strollers, walkers and other mobility devices. They’re also great for people who have a difficult time walking over uneven terrain, and those who are simply looking to have a stroll without having to watch their footing.

“A lot of effort has been put into building these trails,” said Rex Turner, outdoor recreation planner for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. “At the same time, I think it’s fair to say that there’s a lot more work to be done. It’s an important aspect of managing the outdoors because we want everybody to have really good opportunities to experience the outdoors.”

When a trail is labeled as “accessible,” that usually means that it meets all standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act for a wheelchair-accessible trail. These standards include requirements for trail surfacing, width, grade and cross slope, rest spots (level areas), passing spaces, lack of obstacles and signs.

In addition, many trails in the state that do not meet ADA standards may still be navigable by people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, depending on their abilities. Detailed description of trails — provided in brochures, guidebooks and online — can help people make decisions about whether or not a trail will be appropriate for them.

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands uses several terms to describe trails at state parks that might be accessible by people who use wheelchairs. The first term, “accessible,” means a trail meets all ADA standards. The other terms the bureau uses to describe trails are “generally accessible, “accessible with assistance” and “somewhat accessible.” Each term has its own definition.

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