Trekking through Wisconsin reprinted from Spina Bifida Association of WIsconsin, Inc bi-monthly newletter, SBWins
By Debbie Fredrick, Outreach Coordinator for the Spina Bifida Association of WIsconsin, Inc
Wisconsin is full of wonderful views, great summer days, hiking trails, campgrounds, cabins, and fishing and hunting opportunities. Many of these opportunities are also available to individuals with disabilities. Wisconsin state parks, forests, and trails have more than 650 miles of trails that are accessible to wheelchair users and individuals with other mobility impairments. Many of these parks, forests, and trails feature accessible picnic areas and other facilities.
How do you know which trails are accessible? One informational website is the Wisconsin DNR web site at www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/access. This web site contains all the information you might need to find accessible trails and state parks near you. The section on Accessible Trails contains the park, forest or trail name, how many miles of accessible trail, how challenging each trail is, and the type of surface. For example, Lapham Peak Unit, Kettle Moraine State Forest has an accessible trail that is 1.3 miles long, not much of a challenge, and an asphalt surface.
Several others include Mirror Lake State Park in Wisconsin Dells with an easy limestone trail that is only 0.5 miles, Peninsula State Park’s Sunset Trail that is an easy 5.0 mile gravel trail, and the Elroy-Sparta State trail where the entire trail (32.5 miles) is an easy limestone trail. All in all there are 64 trails listed throughout the state. If you are not sure of hills or how accessible the trail really is, call the WDNR for more information.
There are also several state parks that have a limited number of accessible cabins. There are two different types of accessible cabins. The first is the Rustic Accessible Cabins. Just like the name implies, these are no more than somewhere to sleep with a roof over your head. These sites also allow for an additional 8’ x 8’ foot tent. If staying in one of these cabins be prepared to cook your meals on a campfire and use an accessible pit toilet. These cabins can be found in Copper Falls State Park and Bluemound State Park. Visitors can rent these cabins for $18 a night with a $4 non-refundable registration fee.
The second type of cabin is called the Accessible Cabin. These are a little more expensive and offer bathroom and cooking facilities within the cabin. These are located in Buckhorn State Park, High Cliff State Park, Kettle Moraine Forest-Southern Unit, Mirror Lake State Park, and Potawatomi State Park. The nightly rate for these cabins is $30 and a $4 non-refundable registration fee. You will also need a vehicle admission sticker when using either type of cabin. Registration request forms and other information about either type of cabin can be found on the WDNR website mentioned above.
Another link in the WDNR website is Open the Outdoors, a nation-wide effort to provide accessible outdoor recreation opportunities. Four other states are also involved with this program. These states include Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, and Minnesota. This section will link you to the programs in these other states. Check them out before you plan your next out of state trip.
Prefer to fish or hunt? Open the Outdoors also provides information on several accessible hunts and accessible fishing opportunities throughout Wisconsin. This section also has all the information you will need on licenses and permits for people with disabilities. You can also join the Wisconsin DNR Disability Advisory Council or check out several other websites geared specifically for disabled outdoor adventures.
To order a complete list of Wisconsin’s accessible state parks, forests, and trails call (608)266-2181 or go to the WDNR website: www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/access/.
-All information in this article is taken from the Wisconsin DNR website.