Trail Center logo

Theme: Trails and the ADA

Trails and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Universal Trails Assessment Process

A Man with a Handcycle

Building Access

Other Features

Trail Center and Wilderness Press Join Efforts

A Short Hike with a Great View

Wild Lit

Note from the Literary Editor

Violet-Green Swallows - Maya Khosla

Autumn - Brenda Gunn

Haiku - Patricia Dove Miller


Park News

Trail Center Notes

Upcoming Events

Volunteer Opportunities with the Trail Center

The Trail Companion

Fall 1999

Theme: Trails and the ADA

Building Access

     Accessible Trails Constructed or Maintained by the Trail Center

     There are a growing number of trails and parks accessible to people with disabilities in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties. Decades of activism and recent legislation have led park agencies to think more in terms of "barrier-free" or "universal" design for facilities and trails, where possible. "People using wheelchairs are somewhat of an indicator species - if you provide for them you accommodate a lot of other park users." said landscape architect Mike Brown at the 1992 Statewide Trails Conference. "At any point in time, only 43% of the population are able-bodied: 10% are elderly, 10% are temporarily disabled, and 37% are significantly impaired. All of us have been and will be at some time dependent on others, needing help to get around. So barrier-free design helps all of us." The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in the 1990, has also had an impact in shaping our public spaces to be more accessible.
     Some, but not all, of the facilities we list are specifically designed for persons using wheelchairs. These facilities may be marked with the blue-and-white wheelchair logo that indicates compliance with handicap design standards. These trails have a groomed, smooth tread of asphalt or special fine gravel, with minimal cross-slope and gradients less than eight or ten percent. "Whole Access" trails have cable handrails to aid visually-impaired and physically infirm persons. Two examples are the Chickadee Trail in Huddart County Park and the Whole Access Trail at the top of Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Many "officially designated handicap-accessible trails are relatively short.

Huddart County Park (San Mateo County)

     The 0.75 mile Chickadee Nature Trail is a gravel-surfaced whole access trail with a cable handrail. Mixed redwood and oak woodland near the park entrance. The midpoint of the loop exceeds ten percent grade; if this is a concern, you may want to explore both halves of trail separately. The trail begins at the parking lot just below the entrance kiosk. Most other park trails are steep and not accessible. Constructed by the Trail Center and San Mateo County in 1987.

Purisima Creek Redwoods (Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District)

     The 0.25 mile Redwood Trail travels through redwood groves off Skyline Blvd to two accessible picnic table and accessible restroom. The Redwood Trail begins at a small parking area located on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) 6.5 miles south of its intersection with Highway 92, and 0.5 mile north of Kings Mountain Road. Constructed in 1986-1988 by the Trail Center and MROSD.

San Mateo Shoreline (City of San Mateo)

      Although not fully accessible due to wood chip and dirt surface, the 0.7 mile long Bay Trail alternative route is nearly flat for most of its distance as it follows a tidal canal below the levee which carries the paved Bay Trail. The trail travels between Ryder and Harborview Parks, with access from either park. To reach Ryder Park, take the 3rd Ave. exit from Highway 101 and go west for 0.7 miles and make a U-turn past the bridge. Harborview Park is located at the end of Monte Diablo Ave. and Rochester Ave. Constructed 1996-1998 by the Trail Center.

     This list was adapted from the Trail Center publication Disabilities-Accessible Trails on the San Peninsula and South Bay Area. This publication is currently being revised and will be available on our website soon. MROSD has a list of accessible trails in their preserves. Santa Clara County also has access information for county parks.

Related Stories

Trails and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Universal Trails Assessment Process
A Man with a Handcycle

Trail Center logo
Copyright © Trail Center. All rights reserved.

Please contact the Web Manager for corrections or comments.