Boulder is an adventure town with outdoor recreation for everyone. Wide-open spaces, fresh air, wildlife, camaraderie and all the other memorable experiences that happen on trails in natural spaces can be enjoyed year-round by people with disabilities.
The City of Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks program has assembled an excellent set of resources for hikers using wheelchairs, walkers and scooters at AccessibleOSMP.org. It includes an excellent series of videos, starting with the one below. These subsequent five- to six-minute, fast-motion videos show an entire accessible trail hiked by wheelchair user Topher Downham. Along the way he shows obstacles encountered, local flora and fauna, and activities available at each location.
The city has also published an incredibly thorough and helpful, 40-page accessible trails guide book (PDF) available for those seeking information about accessible hiking trails in Boulder.
The following is a sampling of accessible paths and trails:
Right in the heart of town, this paved path follows Boulder Creek east from Boulder Canyon to the outskirts of the Valmont Reservoir. Its western end is unpaved (dirt and gravel) but becomes paved as the trail enters the city and travels through city parks, downtown Boulder, the edge of the University of Colorado campus and eastern Boulder.
This 1.75-mile Wonderland Lake trail starts on the south side of the Foothills Nature Center. The trail crosses a grassy field. From this point, the trail circles the lake, some of it on paved sidewalk and some fine-crushed gravel trail. The peninsula on the northeast corner of the lake is great for fishing from a wheelchair since it brings you very close to the water.
The Ute Trail is a piney, scenic trail that begins near Realization Point (at the Flagstaff Mountain summit) and contours northeast along Flagstaff Mountain (the summit is at 7,283 feet) through meadows frequented by peacefully grazing mule deer. This trail is rated moderate-difficult for visitors experiencing disabilities, with a distance of about half a mile. The surface is a mix of crusher fines and hard pack, with a width ranging from 6 feet to 26 inches. The grade averages 6.5 percent, with a maximum grade of 13 percent (for about 20 feet).
Find detailed information on 30 trails in the City of Boulder's OSMP Accessible Trails and Sites.
If you have a mobility impairment and want to try your hand at all-terrain handcycling before you invest in your own handcycle, come out for a ride with the City of Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff. They do have power assist*, so even people without strong upper bodies can have an opportunity to explore nature. If interested, please send an email to Topher Downham at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can work out a date and time for you to try one out.
*OSMP allows people experiencing disabilities to use Other Power/Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs), including electric-assisted cycles and handcycles. E-bikes for any other purpose are not allowed on OSMP trails.
Wheelchairs are available for free check-out at the Downtown Boulder visitor kiosk at 13th and Pearl Street. Visitors will just need to show two forms of ID and can borrow a wheelchair to explore downtown during the kiosk's open hours, Monday-Friday 10am-8pm. Call 303-417-1365 for more information.
Top two photos by Tom Chamberlin. Wonderland Lake photo by Denise Chambers/Boulder CVB.