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Thread: Wheeling into the wild: County parks increasing trail access to accommodate disabled

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    Wheeling into the wild: County parks increasing trail access to accommodate disabled

    Wheeling into the wild
    County parks increasing trail access to accommodate disabled
    By John Stanley
    The Arizona Republic
    Nov. 2, 2002

    Hikers wax poetic about the joys of meandering through the desert, taking the time to ponder scenic vistas of mountains and cactuses, luxuriate in the stillness of the wild or thrill to the glimpse of wildlife.
    But for far too long, those simple pleasures were hard to come by for folks in wheelchairs.

    "So many of the (old) trails I've been on were OK, but it seemed like the accessible part stopped where it gets really neat," says Guerry Dalrymple, an avid outdoorsman who's used a wheelchair for 16 years.

    "You've got to have trails that really get out in the wild," he says, "otherwise you sit in the parking lot, wishing you could go out."

    Since the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990, park planners have recognized the importance of providing barrier-free outdoor recreational opportunities for everyone.

    "What the ADA requires is reasonable accommodation," says Bill VanAusdal, deputy director of Maricopa County Parks.

    Although officials knew it wouldn't be reasonable to make all 150 miles of trail in the county's parks barrier-free, they began thinking about creating trails where physically challenged visitors could get away from the roadways, where it's a little quieter, to see some petroglyphs and experience the parks in much the same way other visitors do.

    "That's reasonable accommodation," VanAusdal says.

    Maricopa County's park system currently contains four barrier-free trails, with a total of just over 2テつ*1/2 miles. Another mile, the Merkle Trail at the Usery Mountain Recreation Area, will be added later this fall.

    It's not an easy process.

    Some of the complications trail designers face are gradient restrictions, the inclusion of level rest areas, extra width and the necessity of making the surface both smooth and resilient. Where a regular mountain trail might be rough, rocky and steep, a barrier-free trail might be twice as wide, paved and, in order to keep the gradient down, take two or three switchbacks to gain the same elevation.

    "They're a lot more expensive than regular trails," Van- Ausdal says. Still, he says, park managers plan to have barrier-free trails in all 10 of Maricopa parks eventually.

    "It's amazing, when you get away from the parking lots, even half a mile or so, suddenly you start to see wildlife and you notice how quiet it is," VanAusdal says. "So it's important that we provide the opportunity for everyone to be able to get out and see Mother Nature."

    VanAusdal says the goal for the parks, which get about 85 percent of their funds from entry fees and other use-based fees, is to add a new barrier-free trail to the park system every couple of years.

    Phoenix has three barrier-free trails in its mountain parks and plans to begin construction on a fourth this spring.

    County resident Darol Kubacz is among those who would like to see the Valley's system of barrier-free trails expanded. A paraplegic since an accident about eight years ago, Kubacz is an avid cyclist who regularly cranks out 100 miles a week on his hand cycle, mostly on the streets.

    "On the (existing) bike paths, you can only go a few miles at a time," he says.
    Kubacz says Phoenix and Maricopa County should invest in barrier-free trails for the same reason they invest in any recreational facilities for their citizens and taxpayers.

    "For me it's a no-brainer," he says, noting that disabled people who are interested in outdoor activities are often limited in their recreational options. "And we won't have those opportunities if the trails don't exist."

    "Our parks are for all Valley residents," says David Urbinato, spokesman for the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, "and of course that includes those with disabilities."

    Dalrymple, the ADA coordinator for Bank One Ballpark and America West Arena, says that recreation of any kind is one of the primary tools used to break the ice with the physically challenged. Once they learn they can still take part in sports and enjoy outdoor activities, he says, it gives them the confidence needed to pursue other endeavors, such as work or education.

    "But the main thing is, (a barrier-free trail) gives you a chance to get out in the desert and see something," Dalrymple says. "And it's nice to be able to do stuff with your friends and family, enjoy some of these things with them. That's why these trails are so important."

    Darrel Christenson, director of community integrations for ABIL (Arizona Bridge to Independent Living), a Valley organization that helps disabled individuals find ways to live as independently as possible, says that people often don't realize that barrier-free trails are useful not only for those in wheelchairs, but for anyone with mobility impairments, whether they're parents pushing strollers or senior citizenswith walkers.

    "And as our population ages and the number of people with various types of disabilities increase, it seems to me that is just makes good sense to have these kinds of trails around," Christenson says.

    "We all enjoy a good trail," Dalrymple says. "People love to get outdoors and see the wildlife and the cactus and trees. It's a great way to unwind and get some exercise. People with disabilities are no different. We just want to go out like anyone else."

    Reach the reporter at (602) 444-4414.

    Here's a selection of barrier-free trails in the Valley:

    窶「テつ*Black Rock Short Loop.
    Length: 0.6 mile loop.
    Surface: Stabilized granite.
    Highlight: Petroglyphs aplenty about a third of the way around the loop.
    Location: White Tank Mountain Regional Park, 13025 N. White Tank Mountain Road, Waddell.
    Upcoming event: Ranger-led outing through the Sonoran Desert, featuring the interpretation of petroglyphs, 9 a.m. Nov. 13.
    parks/white_tank or (623) 935-6056.

    窶「テつ*Honeymoon Cove Trail.
    Length: 2 miles round trip, some steep grades.
    Surface: Stabilized granite.
    Highlight: Views of Lake Pleasant and the Bradshaw Mountains.
    Location: Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant, 41402 N. 87th Ave., Peoria.
    parks/doc or (602) 372-7470.

    窶「テつ*Nursery Tank Trail.
    Length: 0.5 mile.
    Surface: Paved.
    Highlight: Sunset at the oasis.
    Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, 15612 E. Palisades Drive, Fountain Hills.
    parks/mcdowell or (480) 471-0173.

    窶「テつ*Penny Howe Barrier-Free Nature Trail.
    Length: 0.3 mile.
    Surface: Paved.
    Highlight: Interpretive signs explaining the flora and fauna.
    Location: North Mountain Park, 10600 N. Seventh St., Phoenix.
    hikephx.html#NORTH or (602) 262-7901.

    窶「テつ*Reach 11 Barrier-Free Access NatureTrail.
    Length: 0.75 mile.
    Surface: Paved.
    Highlight: Small pond and picnic area.
    Location: Reach 11 Recreation Area, 19224 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix.
    PRL/r11.html or (602) 262-6696.

    窶「テつ*Waterfall Trail.
    Length: 0.5 mile.
    Surface: Stabilized granite.
    Highlight: Dozens of ancient Indian petroglyphs at Petroglyph Plaza.
    Location: White Tank Mountain Regional Park, 13025 N. White Tank Mountain Road, Waddell.
    parks/white_tank or call (623) 935-6056.
    - John Stanley

  2. #2
    I need to check what parks here in CO are barrier free. I know of a few but we've got so many parks.

    Thanks Seneca

    Onward and Upward!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Argao, Cebu, Philippines
    petテつキroテつキglyph テつ*テつ*Pronunciation Keyテつ*テつ*(ptr-glf)

    A carving or line drawing on rock, especially one made by prehistoric people.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

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