15 trails you can enjoy in a wheelchair
If you're looking for an accessible trail, ask those questions before you go. And check whether you need a Discover Pass, a Northwest Forest Pass, a Golden Access Passport, Vehicle Access Pass or some other pass to park and roll.
I've skipped over the obvious (Snohomish County Centennial Trail, Interurban Trail, the Burke-Gilman Trail) in favor of a more typical 'outdoors' experience. Here are some options:
Miners Corner: Near Bothell, it's Snohomish County's first 100 percent universally accessible park, including a play area and a network of paved paths and sidewalks including about a half-mile perimeter loop. Snohomish County, 425-388-6600; www.snocoparks.org.
North Creek Park: Near Mill Creek, it's a 1.1-mile level gravel path to a floating boardwalk through wetlands with a view of a peat bog plus an excellent chance to see wildlife. The boardwalk was upgraded two years ago. The path is part of the much longer North Creek Trail. 425-388-6600; www.snocoparks.org.
Lowell Riverfront Trail: A 1.6-mile paved path along the Snohomish River and a chance to see birds, otters and other wildlife. Everett Parks, 425-257-8300.
Youth-on-Age Trail: Take a self-guided interpretive walk on a 0.4-mile paved trail through the forest, plus side trails. Darrington Ranger District, 360-436-1155.
Old Sauk Trail: A barrier-free gravel loop trail goes through old- and mature-growth forest and by the Sauk River. Darrington Ranger District, 360-436-1155.
Iron Goat Trail: Several barrier-free interpretive crushed-rock sections with benches and gentle grades over the abandoned Great Northern Railway. Accessible outhouses at both ends of the trail. Skykomish Ranger District, 360-677-2414; www.irongoat.org.
Deception Falls Trail: About a 0.2-mile paved, accessible trail to a viewpoint of the falls. Skykomish Ranger District, 360-677-2414
Artist Ridge: A paved path leads about 300 feet to a scenic overlook with a spotting scope and impressive views. Interpretive signs explain the natural and cultural history. Glacier Ranger District, 360-599-2714.
Fire and Ice Trail: The half-mile loop goes through meadows; paved trail the first ¼ mile, then packed gravel. Signs tell the story of the landscape created by volcanic eruptions and Ice Age glaciers. Glacier Ranger District, 360-599-2714.
Picture Lake: The half-mile pavement-and-boardwalk path in Heather Meadows leads to a viewpoint with a spotting scope and, on a good day, the reflection of Mount Shuksan in the lake. Glacier Ranger District, 360-599-2714.
Shadow of the Sentinels: The interpretive center provides access to the half-mile asphalt-and-boardwalk trail through a dense old-growth forest. Mount Baker Ranger District, 360-856-5700.
Rainy Lake: Roll on a nearly level 1-mile path to a viewpoint of the alpine lake with jade-colored waters and its high cliffs; off the North Cascades Highway. Okanogan-Wenatchee Ranger District, 509-664-9200.
Happy Creek Trail (Ross Dam): A .3-mile loop on a boardwalk through an ancient forest with signs, accessible parking and toilet; half is an easy grade, the other half 5 percent to 8 percent. North Cascades National Park, 360-854-7200, www.nps.gov/noca.
Rockport State Park: Wheelchairs can go about a mile from the day-use area to the Skagit River, with picnic tables and benches along the way. One very short grade on the way back. 360-826-3942.
Shore Trail: The 2 ¼-mile paved and hard-packed gravel path along Padilla Bay is a birdwatcher's destination with a paved and hard-packed gravel path along Padilla Bay. Interpretive Center has the key to the wheelchair gate. Breazeale Interpretive Center, 360-428-1558.