A Trail Accessibility Checklist: What to Know Before You Go

Are you planning to get outside and connect with nature? Regardless of the time of year, exploring new surroundings and landscapes is a great way to relieve stress and improve your health and well-being. But you should know that not all trails are created equal. 

Before you head to a nearby nature preserve, it’s important to do a little research to find the right trail for you and your own abilities, age and physical condition. 

To help you prepare and evaluate accessibility criteria, below is a list of items to consider and help you prepare. Some of this information may be available in the Andover Trails Guide, but if not, you may want to check out some trails ahead of time.

  • Start with parking: If access is difficult for you, or someone in your party, check to see if parking areas provide designated ADA compliant spaces for cars and vans, located near the trail entrance. 
  • Ideally, find out about the trail surface. Is this an unimproved woodland trail or is there a service road on the property?  If the trail is posted as ADA Compliant or as an All Persons Trail, you may be able to get detailed path information: The width of the trails and whether trails are paved or made of crushed gravel. Are there handrails on boardwalks and other areas, if needed? 
  • Figure out where to take a breather and recharge: Are there designated seating areas, such as benches at scenic overlooks, to rest and enjoy the surroundings? Keep in mind that no local properties have water available for those hiking. 
  • Check what mobility devices are supported. Are paths wheelchair-friendly and easy to navigate? Are all-terrain power wheelchairs allowed, or perhaps even provided?  
  • Confirm the policy on service animals: Are service animals or emotional support animals welcome? Are there any restrictions?
  • Are there restrooms nearby? Few properties in our area have “heads” at the trailhead.

At AVIS, we want to make the beauty and benefits of nature accessible to everyone. Planning ahead will help you enjoy our local trails safely. If you are looking for more specific information on AVIS trails, you can reach out to David Dargie, the AVIS Land Manager, at [email protected].

AVIS Wardens and Rangers work hard to keep fallen trees and woody debris off the trails.  Eagle Scouts construct board walks to help hikers avoid muddy areas. But overall, the AVIS trails are “rustic”, and may challenge those with mobility concerns. If you have conquered a challenge on one of our trails, we would love to hear about it! 

Trail conditions change all the time! 

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