Recently I spent some time skiing with the Paralympic Biathlon Team on Casper Mountain. To say that the experience was life changing was an understatement. Every day I was inspired by these adaptive athletes and their determination, drive and never-quit attitude.
As I was talking with the athletes and learning about their injuries my thoughts kept drifting to Just Trails. We tried so hard to think of everything when we put together our business model. But, one thing we didn’t think about is which trails are accessible to those in wheelchairs or those who might be blind or need a little extra assistance when navigating the terrain.
We’ve written about kid-friendly trails and trails that are compatible with a jogging stroller but tackling the issue of local wheelchair friendly trails is something I feel like we need to do.
I’ve spent weeks thinking about this blog post and going over every trail I can possibly think of in my head only to come up with a few trails which I would consider wheelchair accessible. I’m not counting paved paths in town such as the Greenbelt and various paths around parks, but real mountain trails. Here’s the list, if I’m missing one or two please leave a comment below to help build this list.
This is a winter video but it’s a good indicator of the terrain at Chimney Park. In the summer Chimney Park boasts miles of wide dirt trails with minimal elevation gain.
The trails are old Forest Service roads and are frequently used by ATVs so be on the lookout for potholes after a rainstorm. But for most of the summer they are dry and accessible.
The rail trail is an awesome multi-use trail. The terrain is relatively flat, and the trails are wide and mostly unused. It’s Laramie’s best kept secret. There are several trailheads to choose from.
The trails are composed of crushed rock rather than smooth dirt so a good set of rugged and dependable tires would be a must for a wheelchair here.
3. Lake Marie to Mirror Lake
There is a short paved trail that goes from Lake Marie to Mirror Lake in Wyoming’s beautiful Snowy Range. This is perhaps one of the most scenic paths on the mountain. The only concern would be elevation, it’s a gentle climb up to Mirror Lake which would not be a problem for wheelchairs, but going down could be a little well, exciting. You could do a drop off at Lake Marie and a pick up at Mirror Lake though to get the full experience.
4. Lake Owen Loop
There is a nice 2 mile loop around Lake Owen that is not officially part of the rail trail, but still in the vicinity of the rail trail. Most of this trail is crushed gravel, especially if you start off headed to the northwest around the lake. If you head the other direction (toward the train) you’ll come to a cool wooden bridge where you’ll be able to have great views of the lake and mountains beyond.
There is a small section where the trail mysteriously disappears into a marsh near the Lake Owen campground, it would be challenging to maneuver a wheelchair through this area but you can do an out and back from there.
We don’t have a trail map for this short trail but you can get to it from the Lake Owen trailhead for the Medicine Bow Rail Trail, just follow the loop around the lake.
If you take a wheelchair out on our local trails. I’d love to hear where you go and what you think of this list, and if you agree or disagree with these recommendations. Thanks!