Get Back To Nature: 10 Accessible Hiking Trails in BC

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BC offers a wide variety of nature trails for people of all mobility levels. Here are 10 hiking trails to explore when accessibility is a consideration. Most are paved and smooth, while a few provide a variety of surfaces. One even offers all-terrain wheelchairs on loan for those wanting to go off-trail.

1. INLAND LAKE TRAIL, POWELL RIVER

Header image: Inland Lake Provincial Park. Photo: Andrew Strain

Located on the upper Sunshine Coastthe 13-km (8-mi) Inland Lake Trail is mostly flat with minimal grades offering a variety of terrain ranging from crushed limestone to boardwalks to bridges. There are multiple access points to the lake and three cabins with wheelchair-accessible pit toilets.

 

Naikoon Provincial Park | Grant Harder

2. Naikoon Provincial Park, HAIDA GWAII

On the northern tip of Haida Gwaii you’ll find extended wooden boardwalks. There are also high-contrast tactile interpretive panels with braille and audio for the visually impaired. The main boardwalk forks at a junction: the top portion is a steep hike to the top of Tow Hill, while the 1-km (0.6-mi) lower portion remains barrier-free leading to the Hiellen River Estuary and ocean views. You can see Alaska from the lookout on a clear day.

You can experience  a virtual hike of the trail  on the Access BC website developed by Spinal Cord Injury BC.

 

 

The Galloping Goose Trail at the Selkirk Trestle in Victoria | Deddeda Stemler for Tourism Victoria.

3. THE GALLOPING GOOSE, VICTORIA

Formerly a freight railway line during WWI, the Galloping Goose is now part of the Trans Canada Trail, also known as The Great Trail, spanning 55 km (34 mi) from Victoria to Sooke on southern Vancouver IslandAccess points are available throughout the trail, allowing for a variety of hikes ranging from a few hours to several days, taking you from Victoria’s urban streets to Douglas fir forests to Sooke’s famous potholes.

 

Grasslands Loop Accessible Trail | Hike Kamloops

4. GRASSLANDS LOOP ACCESSIBLE TRAIL IN PETERSON CREEK NATURE PARK, KAMLOOPS

In south central BC, the Grasslands Loop Trail in Kamloops was re-opened in 2017 after it received funding to make it barrier free. The packed gravel trail is now wider, smoother, and more stable, making it accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and other mobility assets. The loop is located off Whiteshield Crescent in Sahali.

 

Tofino Shorepine Bog Trail | Parks Canada

5. THE SHOREPINE BOG TRAIL, TOFINO

This fully accessible trail along the western coast of Vancouver Island is an 800-m (2,624-ft) loop on flat boardwalk taking you through old-growth coastal temperate rainforest. For those wanting to go on the beach, an all-terrain wheelchair is available on loan from the Kwisitis Visitor Centre. For more accessible trails on Vancouver Island, see here.

The Ancient Forest | Tourism Prince George

6. Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park and Protected Area, near Prince George

Located about 1-1/2 hours by car from Prince George, the Ancient Forest park protects a portion of the only inland temperate rainforest in the world. There are over 400 meters (1,300 ft) of boardwalk trail leading from the parking lot through giant, old-growth cedar rainforest as well as another 2.3 km (1.4 mi) of boardwalk leading to a waterfall.

Whistler's Valley Trail runs along Alta Lake | Blake Jorgenson

7. THE VALLEY TRAIL, WHISTLER

The Valley Trail  provides over 40 km (25 mi) of paved trail and boardwalk just outside Whistler Village, connecting neighbourhoods from Function Junction south of Whistler Creek and Emerald up north by Green Lake. Popular loops include the Whistler Golf Club Loop (4.3 km/2.7 mi) with its picturesque scenery and the Creekside to the Lakes Loop (6.4 km/4 mi) taking you on a tour of three of Whistler’s lakes.

Deer at 108 Mile Ranch, South Cariboo | Michael Bednar

8. CARIBOO CHILCOTIN WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE TRAILS NETWORK, CARIBOO CHILCOTIN

This large swath across central BC contains a network of 22 accessible nature trailsThey cover a variety of environments ranging from craggy mountains to grassy fields.

Rick Hansen, three-time Paralympic gold medalist, is from the Cariboo. A Canadian icon best known as the “Man In Motion,” he undertook an epic two-year, 40,000-km (24,800-mi) journey around the world in his wheelchair. He is now Founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities.

His passion for the outdoors is evident through many of the Rick Hansen Foundation’s projects advocating for greater awareness in accessibility tourism and social change. These trails in his hometown are now barrier free, meaning people of varying physical abilities can access them and enjoy the same wilderness that Hansen loved while growing up in this region.

Below, listen to Hansen talk about his outdoor adventures in the Cariboo.

 

9. SEYMOUR VALLEY TRAILWAY, NORTH VANCOUVER

This paved, 10-km (6.2-mi) path just across the bridge from downtown Vancouver takes you through the heavily wooded Lower Seymour Conservation ReserveAlong the way you’ll find plenty of picnic areas and natural-history interpretive signs. At the end is the fish hatchery.

Northstar Rails to Trails between Kimberley and Cranbrook | Kari Medig

10. Northstart Rails to Trails, between Kimberley And Cranbrook

With views of the Rocky Mountains, this 25-kilometre (15-mi) trail between Kimberley and Cranbrook is completely paved. It offers a mix of uphill and downhill riding and is accessible in the spring when the snow melts. The Kootenay Rockies region also offers hikes on decomissioned railway lines that have been transformed into accessible trails.

During the snow-free season, Meadows in the Sky Parkway at Mount Revelstoke National Park is also a good choice for accessibility from early July to late September. The road up to the summit of Mount Revelstoke is paved and accessible to vehicles. There, all viewpoints along the parkway are barrier free (including washrooms), as well as the trail to the Parapets. The Monashee and Balsam Lake viewpoints also have accessible picnic areas. 

No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared. AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed before heading outdoors. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials.

Updated from original publication June 22, 2018

POSTED BY: Catherine Tse

From: Vancouver
Catherine had explored Petra, climbed the Great Wall and rescued Icelandic pufflings before even considering a career as a travel writer. She now sits on the Travel Media Association of Canada board and explores the world, writing about her adventures. She specialises in luxury travel, spa, food, soft adventure and style.

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