Hiking is an enjoyable activity that many people love to do. From trail running to mountain biking, Colorado has tons of trails for people to explore. According to the FSTAG (Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines) and the FSORAG (Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines) there are development processes that are taken into consideration when trail building. It’s important to be conscious of trail accessibility by making sure the trails comply to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards.
What is the ADA?
Why are ADA Trails important?
Trails can connect you to nature in many ways and offer unique experiences that can give feelings of solace, comfort and peace. Accessibility is an important part of trail development. Trails are designed to make outdoor adventures accessible to all groups, including the young, elderly and people with disabilities. It is vital to ensure that trails reflect the diversity of human needs in a sustainable way.
Examples of ADA trail features:
- A pathway that is accessible and constructed under the FSTGA while protecting the unique characteristics of their natural environment.
- Trailheads with access points to the trail.
- Associated constructed features such as toilets, picnic tables, and tent pads.
- Trail constructed features such as trail bridges, boardwalks and switchbacks.
- Accessible parking.
- Resting Intervals provided in certain distances.
- Restrooms, picnic tables and benches.
There are many outdoor constructed features such as picnic tables, trash receptacles and benches that must follow guidelines to ensure accessibility to each structure. Each structure must comply with the technical requirements for each feature which allows easy access to all pedestrians.
Trail maintenance can help keep pedestrians safe and preserve the surrounding ecosystems. Doing routine and periodic repair of trails will help restore them to the standards they were originally built and designed for. It will not change the original purpose or design of a trail. Some examples of trail maintenance:
As you can see, there are many essential components and considerations that go into trail building. This is what makes the trails such unique experiences for all ages. If you or someone you know has a disability, it should not prevent anyone from enjoying the great outdoors. Below are a few ADA trails you can hike here in Colorado.
ADA Approved Trails built by Timberline TrailCraft
- Logan County, Kansas – Lil Jerusalem Badlands State Park with The Overlook Trail
Colorado ADA Trails
- Golden, CO – Molas Pass on the Colorado Trail with overlook
- Denver, CO – Cherry Creek Trail
- Colorado Springs, CO – Perkins Central Garden Trail (Garden of the Gods)