ADA accessibility is still an issue on most trails in the United States — which is less a matter of indifference and more a matter of pragmatism. Not every trail over rugged terrain can be made wheelchair accessible. That said, there are still plenty of relatively level and easy paths that a disabled person might choose to take. These are a few of the best wheelchair accessible paths in West Virginia.
The Massanutten Storybook Trail is both accessible and beautiful. According to the Virginia Trail Guide, it “leads to a spectacular view overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Learn from the interpretive signs of how the Massanutten Mountains were formed.” This is a Virginian trail, but we included it for its beauty — and because everyone likes to travel once in a while.
Those who love waterworks will find joy in the beauty of Falls of Hills Creek, a popular accessible trail with about 1700 feet of paved pathway leading to a viewing platform atop the upper falls.
Looking for something longer and more impressive? The 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail cuts through the state park of the same name, and is used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. This trail is the longest rails-to-trail path in West Virginia. Don’t want to go the whole distance? No problem. There are a number of trailheads and towns along the way.
North Bend State Park is home to the the second-largest rail trail, a 72-mile-long pathway that will be part of the 5500-mile coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail (which is decades away from completion, more than likely).
According to the park website, “The North Bend Rail Trail…[stretches] 72 miles from I-77 near Parkersburg in Wood County to Wolf Summit in Harrison County, [and] … passes through 13 tunnels and crosses 36 bridges.” There is another more than half-mile loop in the park as well.
Little Beaver State Park “maintains a paved Lake Front Trail suitable for handicapped use. Visitors with physical challenges will also appreciate the pier that offers handicap accessibility.” The Lake Front Trail is a 1.1-mile loop.
Inside Kanawha State Forest, explorers will find the Spotted Salamander Trail, a quarter-mile trail that even has signs in Braille.
Admittedly, most accessible trails are very short. We recommend contacting state representatives if you know of a beautiful trail — best rated easy difficulty — that could be made wheelchair accessible. You might also contact legal representatives, preserve administrators, or volunteer groups that maintain these trails (https://ssdisabilityaccess.com/). We believe everyone should be granted the opportunity to enjoy as much of the great outdoors as possible.