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Statewide Bentonville Camden Heber Springs Hoxie Little Rock Perryville Tyler Bend
Statewide Travel 0

Accessible Trails in Arkansas

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Getting out and enjoying time in nature is an activity for everybody. Having physical limitations shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone who wants to enjoy the Natural State’s beauty. Fortunately, many municipalities and parks have recognized that people need accessible trails.

If you are pushing a stroller, using a wheelchair, or move a little slower than most people do–that shouldn’t keep you from experiencing the great outdoors. Research indicates that spending time in nature and enjoying fresh air can help us feel more relaxed, think clearer, and sleep better. Doing so may even boost our creativity. Yet many hiking trails are designed for non-disabled people who can walk, run and climb with ease.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

Accessible trails have handicap parking areas and ramps that make the trails easy to access. They have wood, asphalt, concrete or hard packed surfaces that make it possible for a wheelchair to navigate. Railings are set at a height that allow those who are wheelchair bound to still have visibility. Interpretive signage may have large print or Braille options. Most importantly, accessible trails are being well-planned and built in scenic areas. Communities across the state are making a commitment to update trails and provide new trails that are wheelchair accessible trails so that everyone can enjoy the outdoors.

The Buckeye Nature Trail

Heber Springs
This National Recreation Trail is located behind the William Carl Garner Visitors Center in Heber Springs. The 660-foot long trail is fully paved and wheelchair accessible. If you visit this trail, be sure to check out the display about the dam inside the visitor’s center and visit the JFK Dam Overlook, which is also handicap accessible.

Camden Trace Trail

Camden
This 2.1-mile multi-use trail begins at the Camden Chamber of Commerce and follows an old section of railroad. Making this trail accessible to all was a major goal of this million-dollar project which was completed in late 2017.  The trail is completely paved and accessible to all. Lights provide safety along the trail and it is popular amongst the local residents.

The Blanchard Springs Trail

Mountain View
This short, 0.2-mile trail has a concrete surface that is accessible by stroller and wheelchair. Take the path to the end to view the waterfall that exits the Blanchard Springs cave system. The trail can be slick, so some precautions may need to be taken for individuals who walk but have difficulty.

Lawrence County Rail-Trail

Hoxie
This 6.7-mile trail goes from Hoxie to the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport along the old railbed of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad spur. Recent improvements to the trail include completing paving for the entire length of the trail and the addition of a new parking area. Scenery along the trail includes farmland, forest and several neighborhoods.

Wildlife Observation Trail at Little Rock Audubon Center

Located at the Little Rock Audubon Center, the Wildlife Observation Trail is a 1.2-mile ADA compliant loop trail. The paved trail has several interpretive signs that highlight wildlife in the area. The trail is perfect for birding and offers a beautiful view of the Little Rock city skyline.

Trees of the Forest Trail – Lake Sylvia Recreation Area 

Perryville
This interpretive trail is just under a half-mile in length and features wooden boardwalk paths. The signs around the trail tell about the trees found in the area. The signs are also in Braille for visually-impaired visitors to enjoy.

Collier Homestead

Buffalo National River – Tyler Bend
The Collier Homestead trail is a packed surface trail that is wide and suitable for motorized and non-motorized wheelchairs and strollers. The 0.6-mile (one way) hike leads to the Collier Homestead, which was inhabited by the Collier family from 1932 until the mid-1960s. The land was acquired by the National Parks Service in 1987. The cabin remains however, its interior may not be accessible by those who are wheelchair-bound.

Crystal Bridges

Bentonville
In addition to all interior spaces at Crystal Bridges being wheelchair accessible, the museum offers three ADA compliant trails. The Orchard Trail, Art Trail and North Forest Trail are all hard-surface trails. This provides guests with over 2.5-miles of accessible trails and the ability to view the scenery and art exhibits that surround the museum. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset.

Arkansas State Parks

The Arkansas State Parks bring in about 8 million visitors annually and they have worked hard to make the parks accessible to everyone. Many of the parks have accessible lodging, barrier-free fishing areas and hiking trails that are paved or hard-packed to be wheelchair friendly. Arkansas State Parks that have accessible trails include Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, Bull Shoals-White River, Cossatot River, Crater of Diamonds, Crowley’s Ridge, Daisy, Davidsonville Historic, DeGray Lake Resort, Hobbs, Lake Dardanelle, Lake Fort Smith, Lake Frierson, Louisiana Purchase, Millwood, Ozark Folk Center, Parkin Archeological, Pinnacle Mountain, Queen Wilhelmina, Toltec Mounds and Village Creek state parks.

Tips for Those Using Accessible Trails:

  • When possible, call ahead. Many parks have added accessible trails but haven’t had the opportunity to update their trail maps or website.
  • Make sure current conditions haven’t affected the trail. Hiking trails are subject to the elements and often built in areas that may be prone to flooding or other weather-related hazards.
  • Contact your local park with suggestions on how to improve trails for accessibility.
  • Notify park or city officials if any obstacles are impeding the use of a trail.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

Looking for more trails? Check out these resources:

Arkansas Wheelchair Accessible Trails and Maps
Accessible Arkansas

No accessible trails in your area? You can help!

  • Contact your city or park to discuss measures creating accessible trails.
  • Provide suggestions for improvement. Sometimes a small change such as a ramp that leads from a parking area to a trailhead is all that would need to be done.
  • Create a committee to research cost and construction measures required to adapt current trails or build new ones in your community.

Arkansas is making a move in the right direction to create an inclusive outdoor environment but there is still work to be done.

Do you have a favorite accessible trail in your area? Leave a comment to tell us about it so we can add it to a future list.

Cover photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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