Contributed by Monica Alves, Communications Assistant and Stella Li, Communications, Marketing, and Research Special Projects Worker
BC Paves the Way for Inclusive Trails
If you or someone you know faces barriers to physical mobility, exploring the great outdoors this summer may feel like a challenge. But going on a wilderness adventure doesn’t have to be so intimidating! BC is known for its lush forests, diverse wildlife, vibrant landscapes, and prime west coast hiking trails. Many of these trails were created with accessibility in mind. Whether it’s using a mobility aid like a walker or a wheelchair, pushing a stroller, or simply looking for a trail that is suitable for a current injury or challenge, accessibility can benefit us all. We believe that nature should include everyone, and numerous destination hotspots around BC offer comfortable options for people of varied abilities to choose from as they explore the natural beauty that is British Columbia.
A Little Assistance on your Adventures
Have you heard of Mobi-Mat? These beach accessibility mats are rolling out again this summer at English Bay and Kitsilano beach, allowing wheelchair users and people with walkers to easily travel on the sand. Along with this exciting new innovation, ten water wheelchairs are now available across select Vancouver beaches. Click here for more information.
There are many more programs and resources throughout BC to help you plan your next outdoor escape, such as:
- These adaptive recreation opportunities available in Vancouver and Victoria through Power To Be
- This growing list of BC wide adaptive recreation opportunities:
- And if you’re seeking a more extreme hiking experience, these TrailRider programs in Vancouver, Shuswap and Prince Rupert provide adaptive wheelchairs to individuals with limited mobility and volunteers to assist you on your travels
We look forward to seeing the growing development of infrastructure to foster a more accessible, diverse, and all around better BC for people of all abilities. Check out this list of some of our favourite accessible hiking trails in BC!
1. Seymour Valley Trailway | Distance: 10 km
Looking for alpine meadows, peaceful lakes, and the perfect picnic setting? Look no further than the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, also known as the Seymour Demonstration Forest. Weave in and out of the diverse and colourful forest along a smooth 10 km path, and take the low gradient, compact gravel trail around the calm and quiet Rice Lake. Don’t let the heat hold you back! Even in the hottest weather, you can always count on a light breeze blowing through the valley. This picturesque venue proves the west coast really is the best coast.
2. Cariboo Regional District Low Mobility Trails | 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.
3. Morell Sanctuary Yew Loop | Distance: Varied
Located in South Nanaimo, this tranquil trail offers a well-groomed path with adventure around every corner. The interpretive signs throughout this temperate rainforest will educate you on the history and wildlife in which you’re immersed in. With a trail so quaint and serene, even the local gnomes had to take up residency here! Look out for their magical little gnome homes hiding among the trees.
4. Tofino Shorepine Bog Trail | Distance: 800 m
Tofino’s Pacific Rim Park trail takes you on an expedition over the bog across a level wooden boardwalk, leaving this mossy coastal forest virtually untouched. Expect to see a variety of giant contorted trees, twisted into shapes you’ll have to see to believe. Due to a lack of nutrients and poorly drained ecosystem, this wonderland of decaying forestry is nothing short of a unique work of art. You’re sure to gain a new appreciation for the residing wildlife tough enough to survive these conditions.
5. Alice Lake Loop | 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.
6. Hidden Grove ‘Take it Easy’ Trail | 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.
7. Hidden Grove ‘Monty’s Way’ Trail | 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.
8. Isobel Lake Interpretive Trail | 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.
“We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and everyone should get to experience our parks and trails. I am thrilled to know that people of all abilities in Isobel Lake now are now able to access and enjoy an improved trail network thanks to this partnership between the local, provincial and federal governments.” – Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Watch CFJC News cover the recent pathway upgrades here: Kamloops Thompson Trails Alliance celebrates grand opening of accessible trail at Isobel Lake
9. The Ancient Forest’s Universal Access Trail | 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, 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.
10. Kanaka Creek Regional Park | Distance: Varied
With a variety of different trails and scenic attractions, Kanaka Creek Regional Park is the place to be. Hikers can bird watch at the wooden viewpoint or stop by the sports field in hopes of catching a game. They can also head up to the Bell-Irving Hatchery where salon can be found all year round! Not to mention, numerous opportunities to admire the waterfall and boats passing by the river. Please note that the hatchery is accessible with assistance as some gravel areas make maneuvering difficult.
11. Inland Lake Provincial Park | 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.
12. Naikoon Provincial Park’s ‘Misty Meadows’ Trail | 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.