Nature for All! Accessible Trails in Vancouver

Wally Ross Obstacle Free Trail Photo: Rob Weiss

Hiking definitely requires full mobility, or maybe it doesn’t!  Recently, while exploring the delightful network of pathways in Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, I came to a junction at the Wally Ross Trail. Immediately I noticed the Obstacle Free Trail sign. Intrigued, I ventured out along the boardwalk, deeper into the forest. Created as a universal access trail and specifically for users who may have varying physical abilities the Wally Ross route provides relatively safe access for all. How fantastic; a nature trail designed to be navigated independently by those who may be wheel-chair bound. Nature for everyone! Curious, I wondered how many other local trails were constructed with accessibility in mind.

Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest Photo: Rob Weiss

As host city for the 2010 Winter Paralympics, Vancouver welcomed the world and earned a reputation as one of the world’s most accessible places to visit. Of course, wheelchair access to the wonders of nature can present a few obstacles in the form of rocks, roots and steep inclines. Enter the TrailRider, a remote access wheelchair, whose origins are grounded in Vancouver. Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, co-invented the TrailRider as part of his dream to make the outdoors more accessible. Imagine a unique, single-tire “wheelchair” powered by a couple of “Sherpas.” This single piece of equipment allows a person with mobility restrictions to access the great outdoors. From Mount Everest base camp to Mount Kilimanjaro the TrailRider has been tested under extreme conditions and across challenging terrain.

TrailRider Photo: BCMOS

Closer to home, the British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society operates an accessible hiking program based in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. As part of their goal to make the “beautiful accessible”, BCMSO also coordinates a TrailRider rental program. For only $10 per day, outdoor enthusiasts can rent a specialized TrailRider and embark on a self-guided and self-paced adventure. Here are a few of their suggestions for destination hikes:

  • Camosun Bog, Pacific Spirit Park
  • Spanish Banks, Vancouver
  • Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver
  • Green Timbers Urban Forest, Surrey
  • Burns Bog, Delta Nature Reserve

Ambleside Park Photo: Rob Weiss

Ready to Spin?

Check out this terrific list of Accessible Trails in the Lower Mainland from Spinal Cord Injury BC. Looking for a more extreme adventure? Trail Peak features a list of TrailRider accessible routes.

Accessible Trails Photo: MetroVancouver

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