March 15, 2018
If you’re craving a Mother Nature reconnect, you’ll find it in the mountains of British Columbia—a quick flight or scenic drive from the American West….
By Catherine Tse October 10, 2017 #php comments_number('0 Comment', '1 Comment', '% Comments'); ?> #php echo wpb_get_post_views(get_the_ID()); ?>
BC offers a wide variety of nature trails for people of all mobility levels. Here are 10 hiking trails to explore when accessibility is a consideration. Most are paved and smooth, while a few provide a variety of surfaces. One even offers all-terrain wheelchair on loan for those wanting to go off-trail.
This large swath across central BC contains a network of 19 accessible nature trails. They cover a variety of environments ranging from craggy mountains to grassy fields.
Rick Hansen, three-time Paralympic gold medalist, is a Canadian icon best known as the “Man In Motion” for undertaking an epic two-year 40,000-km (24,800-mi) journey around the world in his wheelchair. Founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities, Rick is from the Cariboo.
His passion for the outdoors is evident through many of the Rick Hansen Foundation‘s projects advocating for greater awareness in accessibility tourism and social change. These trails in his hometown are now barrier-free, meaning people of varying physical abilities can access them and enjoy the same wilderness that Hansen loved while growing up in this region.
Below, listen to Hansen talk about his outdoor adventures in the Cariboo.
Formerly a freight railway line during WWI, the Galloping Goose is now part of the Trans Canada Trail, also known as The Great Trail, spanning 55 km (34 mi) from Victoria to Sooke on southern Vancouver Island. Access points are available throughout the trail, allowing for a variety of hikes ranging from a few hours to several days, taking you from Victoria’s urban streets to Douglas fir forests to Sooke’s famous potholes.
The Valley Trail provides over 40 km (25 mi) of paved trail and boardwalk just outside Whistler Village, connecting neighbouhoods from Function Junction south of Whistler Creek and Emerald up north by Green Lake. Popular loops include the Whistler Golf Club Loop (4.3 km/2.7 mi) with its picturesque scenery and the Creekside to the Lakes Loop (6.4 km/4 mi) taking you on a tour of three of Whistler’s lakes.
The epitome of urban wilderness, this northern BC city is home to the Ancient Forest, which received Provincial Park status in 2016. There are over 400 meters (1,300 ft) of boardwalk trail leading from the parking lot through giant, old-growth cedar rainforest, ending at a stream.
In south central BC, the Grasslands Loop Trail in Kamloops was re-opened in 2017 after it received funding to make it barrier-free. The trail is now wider, smoother and more stable, making it accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and other mobility assets. The loop is located off Whiteshield Crescent in Sahali.
On the northern tip of Haida Gwaii are new extended wooden boardwalks allowing for wheelchair access into the sacred territory of the Haida Nation and its ancient forests. There are also high-contrast interpretive panels for the visually impaired. The main boardwalk forks at a junction: the top portion leads to Tow Hill via steps (not accessible), while the lower portion remains barrier-free leading to the Hiellen River Estuary.
This fully accessible trail along the western coast of Vancouver Island is an 800-m (2,624-ft) loop on flat boardwalk taking you through old-growth coastal temperate rainforest. For those wanting to go on the beach, an all-terrain wheelchair is available on loan from the Kwisitis Visitor Centre. For more accessible trails on Vancouver Island, see here.
This paved, 10-km (6.2 mi) path just across the bridge from downtown Vancouver takes you through the heavily wooded Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. Along the way you’ll find plenty of picnic areas and natural-history interpretive signs. At the end is the fish hatchery.
Located on the upper Sunshine Coast, the 13-km (8-mi) Inland Lake Trail is mostly flat with minimal grades offering a variety of terrain ranging from crushed limestone to boardwalks to bridges. There are multiple access points to the lake and three wheelchair-accessible cabins available for reservation.
For easy access, the road up to the summit to Mount Revelstoke is paved and accessible to vehicles. There, all viewpoints along the parkway are barrier-free (including washrooms), as well as the trail to the Parapets. The Monashee and Balsam Lake viewpoints also have accessible picnic areas.
Opening image: Inland Lake Provincial Park, Powell River on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: Andrew Strain
The Wild West may be a thing of the past, but you can still get that feeling of open adventure in BC’s laid-back Boundary Country….
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