Accessible outdoor fun

Sometimes, in the Adirondacks, we take for granted just how easy it is to lace up our shoes and enjoy an adventure along one of the many scenic trails the area has to offer. It can be just as easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone may not have this convenient privilege. Everyone, in this case, includes those that have a disability, and when it comes to enjoying these trails with special mobility needs, accessibility couldn’t be more key. Several trails in the CATS Trail System offer accessibility features that allow adventurers of all abilities to enjoy these scenic strolls with the same convenience that so many others may take for granted. Without further ado, let’s discuss the most accessible trails that the region has to offer, so that everyone can get outside and enjoy it for themselves! 

A person in a wheelchair moves up an accessible ramp
Accessibility means that everyone can enjoy the outdoors

Boquet River Nature Preserve Trail

First up, we have the Boquet River Nature Preserve Trail. Located in downtown Willsboro, this hike offers an accessible trail named Tim’s Trail. Tim’s Trail is a 1.15-mile universal access loop designed and built per Federal Accessibility Guidelines. It has a crushed stone surface that can accommodate walkers, runners, strollers, and wheelchairs, and is open to the public year-round from dusk till dawn. Accessible parking is also available in the parking area that sits at the top of South Liberty Street just past the old basketball courts. This is the most efficient parking option for those with mobility needs. From here, you will have direct access to the Tim’s Trail trailhead. 

The Boquet River Nature Preserve is also a great place to hike for fans of both wild and plant life. In the late summer and fall, thousands of migratory birds can be seen here. What’s more, many of the plants you can find here are exclusive to the area and not found in the interior of the Adirondacks. Examples of these rare species include: walking fern, maidenhair spleenwort, sycamore, and Canada lily. The trail itself sits inside 120 acres of upland forest that includes more than a half-mile of river shoreline that empties directly into Lake Champlain. This amount of forest makes wildlife viewing much more commonplace. If accessibility and wildlife are what you’re looking for, then look no further than Tim’s Trail at the Boquet River Nature Preserve Trail! 

A man rakes a trail of stone through the woods
Maintaining Tim's Trail so that all can enjoy it

Webb Royce Swamp Overlook Trail

Next we have the Webb Royce Swamp Overlook Trail located in Essex, NY. You can find the trailhead for this accessible hike on Clark Road, ¾ of a mile from Lakeshore Road. This hike is short and easy, with a .3 mile round trip and a flat gravel-paved trail that leads to an observation deck. The observation deck serves as a place for those in wheelchairs to turn around. 

The observation deck isn’t just for turning around though. Birding is the name of the game here! The observation deck gives you the chance to do some spectacular bird watching. Birds like the Baltimore oriole, the Eastern kingbird, Virginia rail, red-winged blackbird, and puddle ducks can all be seen here. If accessibility and legendary birding are what you’re after, then this trail is definitely for you!

A duck floats on water
You're likely to see birds like this from the observation deck at Webb Royce Swamp

Champlain Bridge Trail

This one is simple, but just as exciting. The Champlain Bridge Trail is self-explanatory; it’s a trail that takes you across the Lake Champlain Bridge. This pedestrian path is a 1-mile round trip that begins in New York and ends in Vermont. The major selling point of this trail? The absolutely stunning views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondack Mountains, and the shores of each state. The bridge is relatively new, built in 2011, replacing the old bridge that was built in 1929. Feel free to stop at the Lake Champlain Visitor's Center, located on the New York side, to learn more about the history of this area.

Aerial shot of the Lake Champlain Bridge
An aerial shot of the Lake Champlain Bridge that connect New York and Vermont

Crown Point Historic Site

Finally, we have the Crown Point Historic Site trail, located ¼-mile from the Lake Champlain Bridge. This accessible trail offers a main course of outdoor fun with a side of history lessons. The trail is a .8-mile round trip that leads to views of Lake Champlain and directly into that aforementioned history lesson. From here, you can explore the preserved forts and structures of two National historic landmark fortifications: Fort St. Frederic (French, 1734-1759) and "His Majesty's Fort of Crown Point" (British, 1759-1773). The grounds and trails are open year-round and offer interpretive signage to expand your knowledge of the historical significance of Crown Point. This is the perfect place for people of all abilities and their families to adventure through history! 

Colonial forts in a field
The rich history of the region still stands today

Accessibility after the trail

So you had a great time exploring the accessible trails of the Lake Champlain Region and you might think to yourself, “I want more.” Luckily, the region has many more accessible options for you to fill up your day and extend your visit. If you need a place to stay, then give the Best Western Ticonderoga Inn & Suites a look. Newly renovated and offering ADA compliant accommodations in select rooms, this hotel offers the accessibility you’re looking for. And if you’re still looking for things to do and see, then you’re also in luck. Local museums, parks, lighthouses, and even the set of Star Trek all offer accessibility accommodations for visitors. 

Star Trek Set
The set of Star Trek makes a great photo opportunity

Helpful tips

When planning with unique needs, remember to mention the accommodations that you need when booking a reservation at a hotel, restaurant, or when planning something to do. Then, call 24 to 48 hours before you arrive to make sure the accommodations have been put into effect. Give as many details as possible about the necessary accommodations and don't hesitate to ask for specifics such as door and bathroom measurements if you question whether or not your wheelchair will fit. Providers should be more than willing to accommodate and provide the most comfortable experience possible for those with disabilities. The Lake Champlain Region is the land of legendary experiences, and the accessibility for everyone here is just as spectacular.