Communing with nature is known to relieve stress, anxiety and depression. Hiking through the woods, listening to the birds sing, watching squirrels play, roasting marshmallows around a campfire and enjoying a picnic lunch are relaxing and mood changing. Most people sleep better after a hike. However, hiking trails are often not accessible to those using a mobility device. The following are just three of many barrier free hiking trails in the south.
A.L. Anderson Park: A. L. Anderson Park is located in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The park boasts over 135 acres for recreational activities and boater access. Alligators are often spotted near the elevated boardwalk that meanders by Salmon Bay. The boardwalk is easily wheelchair accessible with convenient restrooms and picnic pads among the beautiful Spanish moss-covered cypress trees. Bring a fishing pole to fish for bass from the pier. Visitors may end the day enjoying a beautiful sunset overlooking Lake Tarpon or Salmon Bay. Directions and further information are available online at the official website.
Cheaha State Park: Cheaha State Park is located in the breathtaking Talladega National Forest , within a 30 minute drive of Anniston in northern Alabama. Bald Rock Trail and Boardwalk are rather effortlessly maneuverable by persons using wheelchairs. The trail is ¼ mile long with an awesome view at the end of the trail. Visitors can enjoy other activities such as a picnic, swimming and fishing. Pavilion rentals, fees and directions are available on the state website.
Cumberland Island National Seashore: Cumberland Island is located along Georgia's seashore. Trails on the island are all sand. While sand is an unusual terrain for most wheelchairs, the island provides all terrain beach wheelchairs at either dock for visitors who need them. The balloon tires on the wheelchairs easily traverse the sand trails. The trails on the island include amenities for visitors with audio or visual needs. Visitors to the seashore may enjoy a barrier-free ferry ride, gift shop and museum. The visitor’s center contains wheelchair accessible restrooms. Further information and directions are available on the National Park website.
*Photo courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons.