skip navigation increase font use small font sizeuse medium font sizeuse large font size

How To Use This Site

We created this website to make it easy for people with disability access requirements to find and visit trails, parks, and other places of interest along California's coast. Since access means different things to different people, we did not rate sites based on their level of accessibility. Rather, we have provided accessibility details about trail routes and key features, to help you make informed choices about places to visit, based on your particular access needs. We used the ADAAG (Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines) and California's Title 24 as a basis for evaluating the accessibility of various features such as restrooms, parking, and picnic tables. However, we have also included trails and facilities that do not meet these guidelines if we found that they could be used by at least some wheelchair riders.

We have done our best to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, but some details may have changed since we last visited a site, and we can’t guarantee that we haven’t missed anything. Also bear in mind that weather, time, and frequency of maintenance can alter trail conditions. We strongly recommend that you phone ahead to verify key information and determine current trail conditions before visiting these sites. For a range of experiences, we also suggest that you visit the same sites in different seasons.

Access Criteria

Features are designated accessible if they meet the criteria listed below. In cases where a feature meets most but not all of the criteria, it is designated as having limited accessibility, and we have noted which criteria it fails to meet.

ACCESSIBLE VISITOR CENTER

  • Is reached by an accessible path of travel

  • Has level or ramped entry

  • Entry door has at least 32" clearance (typical ramp)

ACCESSIBLE PARKING

  • Identified by the international access symbol and has an adjoining access aisle

  • Located on a firm and stable surface

  • Is level or on a slope not greater than 2 percent

ACCESSIBLE RESTROOM

  • Accessible path of travel

  • Entry and stall doors have at least 32" clearance

  • Has 5' x 5' turnaround space

  • Has grab bars on back wall and at least one side

  • Has clear space for lateral transfer

  • Toilet height is 17"-19"

  • Roll-under sink has knee clearance at least 29" high and 30" wide

ACCESSIBLE PICNIC TABLE

  • Path of travel is firm and stable

  • Located on a level, firm, and stable surface

  • At least 27" knee clearance

  • Seating is either at end of table or on the sides

ACCESSIBLE FISHING PIER
Has level access onto the pier and at least a 32”pathway. Safety regulations require that railings be 42”, which may limit views and fishing access from a seated position.

ACCESSIBLE PLAYGROUND
Has an accessible path of travel to the playground and is located on a firm and stable surface as approved by the Access Board. May or may not have accessible play structures.

The following categories are not based on any access codes or technical assessments; rather, they were developed for the purpose of this website and are therefore somewhat subjective. Measurements were not taken for trail grade; we relied upon the researchers’ years of experience using ramps.

TRAIL GRADE
The grade of ramps and inclines is measured by a ratio. A typical ramp is 1:12, meaning that the slope rises 1” for every 12” of length. Gentle slopes are less than or equal to 1:12, while steep slopes, by varying degrees, are greater than 1:12. We assigned each trail one of the following classifications:

  • Level

  • Gentle (1:12 or less, manual chair can negotiate)

  • Mostly level or gentle (has at least one steep section)

  • Steep (> 1:12, power chair and someone with good upper body strength can generally negotiate)

  • Very steep (dangerous without assistance)

TERRAIN

  • Hard: Paved, boardwalk, asphalt, brick

  • Firm: Hardened soil, decomposed granite with stabilizer

  • Moderately firm: Gravel or dirt mix with firm underlayment. May be problematic for manual wheelchairs but not motorized wheelchairs/scooters.

  • Soft: Wood fiber, loose gravel, loose dirt. Problematic for manual wheelchairs and possibly for motorized wheelchairs/scooters.

  • Very Soft: Wood fiber, loose gravel, loose dirt. Problematic for manual wheelchairs and possibly for motorized wheelchairs/scooters

 

Key to Site Features

Accessible Wheelchair Icon looks like a wheelchair with balloon wheelsBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing

How This Guide Was Created

In 1990, the California Coastal Conservancy published a guidebook to accessible trails in the San Francisco Bay Area, A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast. In 2001 it published a similar guide to Los Angeles and Orange County, and in 2006, an expanded edition of the San Francisco Bay guide. Given the tremendous success of these guidebooks and the Coastal Conservancy's mission to provide public access to the coast, it seemed a natural next step to create a website providing disabled accessibility information for the entire coast. Access Northern California was awarded a contract in 2007 to develop this website.

The first step in gathering the data was to identify public sites along the coast that offered some degree of wheelchair access. We then identified wheelchair riders in coastal counties who had knowledge of accessibility standards and experience hiking trails. Using a survey tool developed by Access Northern California, the reviewers visited the site, often several times, and evaluated it for accessibility. In counties where we were not able to recruit local residents to review the sites, staff from Access Northern California conducted the assessments. As part of an extensive editing process, the managing agency for particular sites was contacted to review our reports for accuracy. With some sites the entire process took more than a year, and in some cases access actually improved during that time. We rarely found sites where access had decreased, and where it had, the decline was due to weather-related conditions.

As funding permits, we will continue to expand and update this website. If you would like to suggest an accessible trail or park for us to review, send us an e-mail.

About Access Northern California (ANC)
ANC is a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 to facilitate and advocate for greater access to travel and recreational opportunities in Northern California for people with disabilities. Founder and director Bonnie Lewkowicz is the author of the 2006 edition of A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast, and the principal creator of this website.

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to this website.

We are most grateful to our exceptional editors, Eileen Ecklund and Rasa Gustaitis; the California Coastal Conservancy, especially Joan Cardellino; Steve Scholl and the California Coastal Commission; and Wendy Martin with California State Parks.

Thanks also to:

Webmaster: Tod Abbott, Almost Everything Communications

Web designer: Suzanna Shubeck, Ultrapop Design

Cartographer: Eureka Cartography

Photographers:
Danielle Albertson
John Dickson, SantaBarbara.com
Entera
Mark Goodkin, sandiegocoastlife.com
Alan Grinberg, www.alangrinberg.com
Dan Hill
Kristen Maneke
Cathleen Maclearie
Jean Morrison
Patricia Narciso
National Park Service
Tom Ramos
Lexi Tucker
Martha Wegner

Researchers:
Foster Andersen
Eileen Ecklund
Bonnie Lewkowicz
Kristen Maneke

Patricia Narciso
Carlos Nuñez
Julie Perez
Scott Rains
Ann Sieck
Martha Wegner

There were many other individuals and organizations who generously provided their time and expertise to this project, and we apologize if we inadvertently left you off this list. Please accept our heartfelt THANKS!

 

Trail Researcher Biographies

Bonnie Lewkowicz has worked in the field of accessible recreation and travel for more than 30 years. After a spinal cord injury, her personal experience with the lack of recreational opportunities for wheelchair riders motivated her to pursue a career in recreation therapy. She is founder and director of Access Northern California (www.accessnca.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing adventure opportunities for people with physical disabilities; this website is one of its projects. She wrote A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast, published by the California Coastal Conservancy. Her travel articles have appeared in Emerging Horizons, Bay Nature, the Sierra Club newsletter, and other publications. As someone who likes to push boundaries, she is also a cofounder of AXIS Dance Company, an acclaimed and innovative professional dance company of dancers with and without disabilities.

Eileen Ecklund is a freelance writer and editor who loves to ramble the streets and trails of the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and dog, camera in hand. She also loves exploring further afield, camping and hiking in the many landscapes of the western United States, and traveling abroad whenever she can. She was an associate editor and writer for California Coast & Ocean magazine, and helped produce and distribute A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast.

Ann Sieck is a semi-retired classroom teacher and longtime wheelchair user who lives in Berkeley. She enjoys singing, especially the music of Bach and earlier composers, as well as gardening, birdwatching, and camping. She maintains the website San Francisco Bay Area Wheelchair Trails, a guide to accessible—or mostly accessible—Bay Area trails. She is never happier than when she and her husband are boldly going where no wheelchair has gone before.

Kristen Maneke is an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist who hails from Kansas City but has lived in San Diego since 2002. She enjoys visiting the beach and mountains, taking her dog to parks, and riding her scooter around town, as well as scuba diving, yoga, tennis, live music, and travel. She strives for balance in all aspects of life.

Foster Andersen is a quadriplegic survivor of a spinal cord injury who put himself through college in New York as a manufacturing engineer. After joining a new "sit ski" program for wheelchair users, he embraced the idea of providing extreme adventures and life-rebuilding opportunities for people with disabilities. From 1987 to 1990, Foster worked with the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, then in 1990 moved to Santa Cruz, and there formed Shared Adventures to serve the disabled population of the Central Coast and Bay Area.

Martha Wegner has more than seven years of experience facilitating outdoor recreation trips for people of all abilities, focusing on individual growth, community integration, and environmental education. She earned a B.A. in sociology with a minor in outdoor education at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In addition to working as an activities coordinator for the nonprofit organization Shared Adventures, she serves on the board of directors for the Every Child Outdoors Foundation in Santa Cruz, California. Throughout her life she has volunteered for a variety of organizations dedicated to empowering low-income and underserved populations.

Julie Mora-Perez is a descendent of Costa Rican pirates and inherited a lust for life. Her neurological disability has never stopped her from blazing new trails and seeking out adventures. She scuba dives, rides horses, has competed in numerous wheelchair sports, and has been a tour guide for the Handicapped Scuba Association. Her work as a travel agent has enabled her to travel extensively. She shares with her husband and their two children the joys of camping, bicycling, and simply being in nature.

Carlos P. Nuñez experienced a C6-7 spinal cord injury on a trampoline 25 years ago while working his way through college as a gymnastics coach. He has lived and camped along the north coast of Humboldt and Del Norte counties for more than 30 years and is a self-appointed accessibility ambassador in his community. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a semi-retired marriage and family therapist. Among his favorite pastimes are traveling, camping, wood carving, playing harmonica, exploring, communing with nature, and philosophizing about life.

Scott Rains grew up in the Pacific Northwest, hiking, skiing, fly-fishing, and generally wandering the Cascades until he was paralyzed at age 17. Wandering still, but now as a writer specializing in traveling with a disability, he recently discovered that his maternal Slovak lineage among the Goral people of the mountainous Orava region includes the Slovak writer Martin Kukuchin. Travel and writing seem to be in his blood.

Ashley Lyn Olson is the founder and CEO of wheelchairtraveling.com, a leading worldwide resource for people traveling with a limited mobility or a wheelchair, that encompasses activities, lodging, equipment, tips and a whole lot more for both adventure and leisure travel. Ashley has been traveling with a wheelchair since she was 15 and advocates for an accessible world. Ashley is a student of life and will never stop learning, but she also graduated with honors from the University of Southern California. Ashley also enjoys creative writing and oil painting.

Jarred Evans sustained a C-6/7 spinal cord injury in 2004 while surfing in Santa Monica. Previous to his injury Jarred moved from Lake Tahoe where he was a wild land firefighter during the summer months and ski patrol in winter. Needless to say he loves the outdoors and spends as much time enjoying it as possible. Jarred works at Rancho Los Amigos spinal cord rehab hospital in Downey Ca. It's there that he works as a peer mentor for Know Barriers and also works with their wellness center's disabled gym. Some of Jarred's favorite hobbies are wheelchair rugby, skiing, surfing and kart racing. Some of his adventures have included skydiving, scuba diving, kayaking, and lots of traveling.

Ann Ruth, a Southern California native, snow skied, water skied, and played tennis until she had a gymnastics accident at the age of five, leaving her a C1-C2 Quadriplegic. Because sports and adventure were a very important part of her life she had to learn how to advocate for and create opportunities to be able to continue participating in various sports and activities. She has played wheelchair hockey, charted softball and volleyball while her desire for adventure led her to para-sail, hang-glide, sky dive, and white water rafting. She is well aware of how the outdoors can be freeing and healing and how adaptive sports can bring such a positive experience to one’s life. In her professional life she works as a computer forensic consultant but also volunteers on numerous non-profit boards that help others.

 

return to top

 

 

Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.   California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy