Information About Accessible Trails

Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) department recognizes the importance of providing a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all abilities.

Open Space and Mountain Parks has adopted design standards for accessible trails based on federal guidelines. Our design standards incorporate the supplement to the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards (ABAAS) and the Outdoor Developed Area Accessibility Guidelines (ODAAG), developed by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (U.S. Access Board).

Accessible Trails Guide Booklet

In 2015, OSMP published a guide booklet for people with disabilities, Boulder OSMP Accessible Trails and Sites. The trails and natural sites in this guide book should be accessible to the average wheelchair, walker or scooter user. Thirty sites and trails are covered in detail in the guide book. We describe each location in terms of its natural and cultural history attractions, available facilities like bathrooms and accessible picnic areas, and analyze its difficulty of access. We hope you find the guide useful, and welcome your comments for upcoming editions. Also, check out the Accessibility Trail Rankings document which shows accessibility ratings for OSMP and Boulder County Parks & Open Space trails and includes ease of use, scenery, shade access, mileage and more. And don't miss the Accessible Trails Videos that show you what it's like to wheelchair-hike these trails.

Follow this link to visit Boulder County Parks and Open Space's accessibility webpage.

Accessible Trails Videos

It can be stressful to many people with disabilities to go somewhere and not know what kind of obstacles they are going to encounter. These 5 to 6-minute fast motion videos show the entire accessible trail hiked by wheelchair user Topher Downham. Along the way he shows us in a light-hearted manner obstacles encountered, local flora and fauna, and activities available at each location. Hopefully this will make hiking easier, more available, and more enjoyable for people with disabilities.

Other Power/Driven Mobility Devices - Ebikes, Handcycles

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. Please contact Topher Downham at downhamt@bouldercolorado.gov for more details.

Program Offerings

Experiential Wheelchair Hikes

These hikes are designed to give able-bodied people the experience of hiking in a wheelchair. This opportunity works to build empathy and an understanding of what it is to maneuver around on wheels. These are usually casual hikes where people learn from their direct experiences. Leaders facilitate discussions during breaks. Everyone has a chance to share what came up for them during the experience. Trail design is also analyzed, looking at such things as grade, cross slope, terrain type, proximity to parking, weather issues, and current regulations. This feedback from participants can lead to better trail design. Most people leave the adventure with some sort of self-realization.

Locations for these hikes are usually outdoors but can also be indoors, addressing indoor accessibility. Some use these programs as both a team building exercise and as well as a learning experience. Time permitting, games such as wheelchair relay races, Bat and Moth, and tag are also included.

Roll and Stroll Hikes

These are thematic hikes designed to accommodate people who are either in wheelchairs or experiencing some sort of disability. The hike locations are on OSMP accessible trails which are easier for a wheelchair to maneuver around. Topics include wildflowers and wildlife, birdwatching, photography, fall colors. Oftentimes, Roll and Stroll hikes are combined with Experiential Wheelchair Hikes, so non-disabled participants can have a chance to experience a wheelchair. These create a camaraderie between users and oftentimes allows friends and families to hike together. OSMP provides the extra wheelchairs.

Adaptive Bike Rides - Disability

These programs are designed to give people with disabilities the experience of mountain biking on OSMP lands. Rides vary from 2 miles to 20 miles and from easy to difficult terrain. The primary goal of the program is to show riders that their disability doesn’t have to stop them from accessing natural places inaccessible to traditional wheelchairs. Skill building, nature therapy, strengthening, cardiovascular training, confidence building, safety, and maintaining a positive attitude are included on this often-times life changing experience. These bikes do have power assist, so even people without strong upper bodies can have an opportunity to explore nature.

Adaptive Bike Rides – Experiential

To increase awareness and understanding, these programs are designed to give non-disabled persons the experience of accessing nature using equipment built for people with disabilities. Rides vary from 2 miles to 20 miles and from easy terrain to difficult terrain. Participants may include trail designers, trail builders, recreational therapists, journalists, and others affecting and influencing the lives of people with disabilities. These rides give the user a better understanding of how the adaptive handcycles work, the benefit of providing power assist to people with disabilities, and how trails can be designed to better accommodate accessible bike riding. Trail specifications are addressed including slope, turn radius, terrain type, gate width, trail width, and how to provide an overall enjoyable experience. The more people who understand disabilities, the more support there is for this and other types of programming.

Classroom Programs and Trainings

These programs are facilitated by people with disabilities and are designed to provide information on various aspects of getting people experiencing disabilities in the outdoors. They can focus on a wide spectrum of themes based on the needs of the requester. These trainings can also be in classrooms or at conference. Topics include but are not limited to diversity, inclusion, disability access, living with a disability, outdoor recreation opportunities, the psychology of being disabled, the power of healing in the outdoors, how to provide disabled programming, access information, and disability perspectives. They can also include information on how to design trails and facilities. Oftentimes the classroom program is combined with an experiential wheelchair hike. These programs can take place in offices and schools, as well as national and international conferences.

Special Events

Occasionally OSMP creates or participates in special disability focused events. An example of a special event was in 2019, “Wheelchairs and Llamas.” OSMP brought pack llamas along for a hike at Doudy Draw and South Mesa Trails. Another example was Bike to Work Day, where we took various people on wheelchair experiential hikes and let them test drive the all-terrain handcycles as well. Sometimes we collaborate on an event with Adaptive and other organizations, reaching a larger number of people.

Memory Walks

In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association’s SPARK program, OSMP leads hikes for people with early to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners. Hikes are designed to keep participants actively engaged in nature. These experiences stimulate conversations, provide peer support and inspire creativity through engaging in all of our senses. They are free and lead by trained staff and volunteers. Walks typically last 2 hours and group size is limited to 12 participants. These programs are offered on different accessible trails in the OSMP system. Weather does play a part in if programs can be offered.

Schedule a Program

To schedule a program please visit the Request a Program page.

If you would like more information, please contact Topher Downham at downhamt@bouldercolorado.gov.