What Are Universally Accessible, All Persons Trails
All Persons Trails are universally accessible trails that have been designed to meet or exceed the ABA (Architectural Barriers Act) access standards, or the US Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines for access. These trails allow someone with a mobility device, limited mobility, a balance challenge, low vision, or blindness to use them to experience nature or green space. Universally accessible trails can take many forms; some are unpaved, with surfaces of dirt, gravel fines, stone dust, or wooden decking, others have pavement (like the bike trails). The grade/incline, and cross slope of these trails are carefully managed so they don't exceed ABA/USFS guidelines. They also have inclusive wayfinding signage, and resting areas.
Unpaved trails are especially important because they provide access to nature regardless of age or ability, and studies have shown that natural forest or wilderness-like spaces provide greater health benefits when compared to paved spaces, such as parks and bike trails. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has a severe lack of all persons/universally accessible unpaved trails in both our State Parks and in our cities and towns.
We hope to change that! Everyone should have access to nature and the health benefits it offers. Visit our page about why these trails are needed to learn more about these health benefits.
Below you'll find some photo examples of unpaved universally accessible all persons trails in Massachusetts.
Visit A Trail: We encourage you to visit all persons trails and see for yourself how important and well-loved these spaces are! To find a trail near you, check out our trail lists for Western Mass, and Central & Eastern Mass.
Build A Trail: If you're interested in building an accessible all person's trail, check out our resources page and see how we can help. We'd also love to add your trail to our trail list!
Image Gallery Alt Text: The gallery contains six images of accessible unpaved trails. Top left: Trail-side view of a wetland in early spring. The photo shows the edge of a wooden railing in the bottom of the picture, beyond the railing there is water, trees, and blue sky. Top Center: View through the trees of a wooden boardwalk trail winding through the woods. There is a wheelchair user in a pink shirt on the trail. Top Right: A shady trail made of crushed stone in a pine forest. Bottom Left: A side view of a crushed stone trail in field. Behind the trail are trees, and low clouds which are obscuring a distant hill. Bottom Center: A wooden bridge on an accessible trail in the fall. Leaves cover the boardwalk, there is a person in a gray swatshirt, with dark medium lenght hair, using a cane and walking away from the camera. Bottom Right: River-side trail in the spring. In the bottom of the picture there is the corner of a wooden railing. Beyond the railing is a small river and trees with small, newly budded, bright green leaves.
4 Ways You Can Help:
2. Get Emails To Stay Informed About Progress. Sign up for email updates here.
3. Contact City Government and tell them you support adding universally accessible unpaved trails -
Here's a link to contact Northampton's City Councilors. Once at the city's website click the "contact" tab.