As BC reopens, we encourage you to enjoy the great outdoors! Hiking is a common summer activity, and you may be wondering how feasible it is for folks with disabilities. Thankfully, there are many accessible hiking trails across the province that you can enjoy!
In the Lower Mainland
1. Othello Tunnels, Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park | Hope | Distance: 3.5 km
The Othello Tunnels in Hope, located in Coquihalla Canyon Park, have recently reopened. Having been built in 1914, it provides viewing, walking, fishing, and picnicking opportunities. The trail is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible with a flat gravel surface. Keep in mind that the ground is a bit uneven through the tunnels, and the tunnels are dark, so it’s recommended that folks bring a flashlight!
2. Gold Creek Falls trail | Maple Ridge | Distance: Varied
Located in Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, hiking the Gold Creek Falls trail will allow you to see Alouette Lake as well as one of the most striking waterfalls in the region. The trail is 100% stroller-friendly and wheelchair accessible. In terms of safety protocols, hikers coming to Golden Ears Provincial Park must reserve a free day-use permit before arriving.
3. Pacific Spirit Regional Park | Vancouver | Distance: Varied
Located near UBC, Pacific Spirit Regional Park contains several accessible trails, including the Heron Trail, which is 1.2 km long, features minimal slopes, and has a semi-firm packed gravel trail surface. In total, there are over 54 km of walking and hiking trails, with Wreck Beach to the west. The washrooms and parking at the Park Centre on 16th Avenue are wheelchair-accessible, as are the Camosun Bog boardwalk trails.
4. Alice Lake Loop | Squamish | Distance: Varied
This popular provincial park located in Squamish was named after the first woman settler to hike and fish at this lake, Alice Rose. Take the wheelchair friendly Alice Lake loop and breathe in the sweet summer fresh air and aroma of the cedar, hemlock and douglas fir trees. Channel your inner Alice Rose and explore all that this park has to offer. Feel free to pack a picnic and settle down at the sandy beach for a nice lunch. You deserve it! All campground trails are also wheelchair accessible.
In the Interior
5. Cariboo Regional District Low Mobility Trails | Cariboo Regional District | Distance: Varied
This network of beautiful trails in the interior of BC consists of a variety of landscapes for people of all mobility levels to choose from; 18 of them to be exact! Popular trails include the Horsefly Salmon Habitat Viewing Trail and 99 Mile Low Mobility Trail. If you’re lucky, you may even spot former Canadian Paralympic athlete Rick Hansen! Rick is a frequent visitor to the area as he was raised in Williams Lake. Don’t forget to share your experience by uploading your favourite photos to the CDR trail map here.
6. Isobel Lake Interpretive Trail | Kamloops | Distance: 3 km
Kamloops Thompson Trail Alliance Society is a leader in creating innovative trails for people with low mobility. They recently celebrated the grand reopening of the Isobel Lake trails, which have been upgraded to allow people of various abilities to access the loop around the lake. There’s plenty of fish in this sea! The lake features fishing wharfs and is stocked full of rainbow trout fish.
7. The Ancient Forest’s Universal Access Trail | Fraser-Fort George | Distance: 450 m
The Universal Access Trail is located within the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut provincial park and protected area. Aside from being a new BC provincial park, having been established in 2016, it is turning into a “must do” park for all hikers alike. Hike alongside one of Fraser Valley’s few remaining red cedar forests with cedar trees that are more than 1,000 years old! Explore over 400 plant species that reside in the Ancient Forest. The forest is globally unique by being the only temperate rainforest located so far north and away from an ocean. Keep an eye out for fishermen, as many visit the stands from summer fishing camps along the upper Fraser River.
8. Grasslands Loop | Kamloops | Distance: 1.1 km
This short, lightly trafficked trail only takes about 20 minutes to complete, so it’s perfect for after work! The Grasslands Trail is accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, bikes, and dogs, and features beautiful wild flowers and awesome views of Kamloops. You might even be able to spot some birds while you’re hiking here!
9. Inland Lake Provincial Park | Powell River | Distance: 13 km
In 1997, this recreational forest transformed into a radiant provincial park. It took two years to make this trail wheelchair friendly, thanks to The Model Community Project for People with Disabilities. Along with a partnership with BC Parks, they were able to raise over 250K of funds towards renovations. Take the 13 km loop around the lake and cross flat board walks and bridges with ease. There are three cabins with wheelchair accessible pit toilets and a fishing dock that is easily accessible at the head of the trail.
On the islands
Planning a trip to one of BC’s islands? BC Ferries offers discounts for residents of British Columbia with a permanent disability. Apply for an Accessible Fare Identification (AFI) Card to receive your discount. This can take a couple weeks to process, so plan ahead! Visit the BC Ferries website for more information about their commitment to accessibility.
10. Hidden Grove ‘Take it Easy’ Trail | Sechelt | Distance: 480 m
Sechelt’s first accessible trail leads you into the heart of the Hidden Grove. Take the purple trail and you will quickly join the ‘ayut-tsut’ trail which translates to ‘take it easy’ from the Sechelt language. With a 5 foot wide surface and gentle grades, this trail is a smooth ride through a mystical forest full of gigantic old growth trees and mushrooms. Notice the tree bark stripping? The Shíshálh Nation have been harvesting the bark to make traditional baskets, ornaments, and clothing for many years. The Hidden Grove carries a story of survival with it. It has bounced back from several wildfires and was more recently scheduled to be logged. But the local community of Sechelt united to save their beloved forest, and their efforts proved successful.
11. Hidden Grove ‘Monty’s Way’ Trail | Sechelt | Distance: 480 m
Monty’s Way is the second accessible trail that resides in the Hidden Groves. This trail honours Bob D’Arcy’s (Sechelt Groves Society President) loyal Springer spaniel, Monty. Bob was at the forefront of this trail, clear cutting since the early 2000’s. Over the years, Bob began experiencing leg problems and that is when Monty trained himself to clear sticks and branches without any command. “Monty did not just pickup a stick and carry it. He picked it up and took it well off the trail … He often tackled branches and whole trees much too large for him or even Bob but it was fun to watch.” (Why Monty’s Way?). A day after the Take It Easy accessibility trail opened, Monty passed away. As Monty built the trail his way, they named the trail Monty’s Way in commemoration.
12. Naikoon Provincial Park’s ‘Misty Meadows’ Trail | Haida Gwaii North | Distance: Varied
As a historic village of the Haida Nation, Naikoon has a reputation of cultural and spiritual importance. Remains of settlements and food gathering sites can be seen throughout the park. This park has a unique mixture of coastal temperate rainforest ecosystems, wetlands and bogs, sand dunes, and approximately 100 km of beaches. Uncover its rich cultural history and thick forest scenery. Don’t forget to check out the spectacular blowhole lookout at Tow Hill Trail! This attraction is universally accessible and includes interpretive signs. More lookout points, outhouses, and all water taps are wheelchair accessible as well.
13. Strathcona Provincial Park| Vancouver Island | Distance: Varied
Strathcona Provincial Park offers TrailRiders, unique single-tire “wheelchairs” designed to facilitate outdoor recreation for individuals with physical disabilities. Its Centennial Loop trail is about 2 km long, featuring both boardwalk and hard-packed gravel sections with no steps, as well as a low gradient. Power chairs and standard wheelchairs are all able to trek the Centennial Loop trail.
14. Malahat SkyWalk| Vancouver Island | Distance: 600m
Malahat SkyWalk is an accessible 600 m elevated wooden pathway that was completed this year. It includes interpretive sign language that explains the local wildlife and tells the story of the Malahat Nation. The skywalk runs through an arbutus forest and leads to a gentle accessible spiral ramp that culminates in a lookout 250 m above sea level.
In addition to all the hikes mentioned above, Power to Be is an outdoor program that supports people with disabilities and other barriers in accessing nature. Power to Be has developed a phased approach to in-person nature-based programs, offering both onsite and virtual initiatives for the summer. There are currently waitlists on most of their in-person programs, but keep following them for program openings and updates!