Hiking is one of the best ways to get outside and explore, whether you’re traveling to a new place or staying close to home. And, in many parts of the country, public land managers are making hiking trails more accessible to everyone, including people who use wheelchairs.
Colorado is home to many wheelchair-friendly and wheelchair-accessible trails, perfect for seeing the state’s gorgeous yellow aspen leaves in the fall and scoping out wildflowers during the summer. Many of Colorado’s hiking trails are also still open in the winter, thanks to the state’s abundant sunshine.
Looking for other wheelchair-accessible trails beyond this list? Colorado’s COTREX app and website has a simple filter that lets you search for wheelchair-friendly trails across all publicly managed trails in the state.
Far View Interpretive Loop
Located inside Mesa Verde National Park on Colorado’s western slope, the Far View Interpretive Loop is a wheelchair-friendly trail that’s nearly a mile long. This loop gains 90 feet in elevation while passing the remnants of Ancestral Pueblo homes and villages dating back to 900 to 1,300 A.D. Important archaeological sites along the trail include Megalithic House, Pipe Shrine House, Far View Tower, and Coyote Village. Interpretive signs explain this region’s unique historical significance. All told, the park protects 600 cliff dwellings and more than 4,500 other archaeological sites.
Moose-Goose Nature Loop
As the name suggests, this 0.6-mile hiking trail in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge is your chance to see moose and waterfowl. The trail has a gentle slope and features a boardwalk that winds along the Illinois River. You’ll get an up-close-and-personal view of a Colorado riparian area, including the many birds and animals who call this habitat home. Songbirds, geese, ducks, grouse, and various species of migratory birds are common here. Hunters like to spend time here, too, so it’s best to wear bright orange clothing or consider visiting outside of hunting season.
Eagle and Sage Trails
The Boulder Valley Ranch trailhead offers access to two wheelchair-friendly hikes: the Eagle and Sage trails. Together, they form a 2.6-mile loop that can be extended with several offshoots. The trail has several steep hills with 12 to 15 percent grades and there’s very little shade here, so it’s best for wheelchair users looking for a challenge. There’s a good chance you’ll see bald eagles here, especially during the winter months, as well as prairie dogs, coyotes, waterfowl, and other birds. Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks division maintains a detailed guide to wheelchair-accessible trails, including fast-motion videos of many routes.
Perkins Central Garden Loop
The reddish-orange spires and rock formations at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs are truly majestic. If you’re at all interested in geography or you just appreciate natural beauty, these are must-see landmarks. Many of the park’s stunning rock formations are on display from the Perkins Central Garden Loop, a 1.1-mile paved concrete loop that’s wheelchair-accessible. From this trail, you’ll be able to see Instagram-worthy formations like Kissing Camels, Three Graces, and Cathedral Spires. You might even see rock climbers scaling the formations’ walls (with a permit!).
Fountain Valley Loop Trail
Just a few miles southwest of Denver, Roxborough State Park encompasses 4,000 acres of pristine wilderness. Here you’ll also find the Fountain Valley Loop Trail, a moderately difficult 2.5-mile trail that gains 365 feet in elevation. Wheelchair users can ride the unpaved trail with ease when the weather is good. Along the way, you’ll see red rock formations, historic buildings, and a wide variety of birds and wildlife (golden eagles are a common sight here!). Plan to spend up to two hours on this route. The entire park is calm and peaceful, as pets, drones, mountain bikes, horses, camping, fires, and rock climbing are all prohibited.
Mesa and Homestead Trails
The Mesa and Homestead trails, accessed from Boulder’s South Mesa Trailhead, offer roughly 2 miles of wheelchair-friendly hiking. You’ll see a variety of wildflowers, as well as deer, songbirds, peregrine falcons, and red-tailed hawks. You may even see evidence of cougars and black bears here. The trail meanders along South Boulder Creek, then through tall- and mixed-grass prairie habitats. If you like to fish, there are wheelchair-accessible spots along the creek and plenty of trout.
Sapphire Point Loop
For a hike with a water view, consider Sapphire Point Loop in Summit County. This 0.6-mile trail features an overlook at 9,500 feet that offers a picturesque view of Dillon Reservoir framed by the Tenmile mountain range. The trail gains 76 feet in elevation and is a great place to spend an afternoon. The picnic area also offers a view of the reservoir, this time with the Gore mountain range as the backdrop.
Coyote Valley Trail
Coyote Valley Trail is one of several wheelchair-friendly hikes inside Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a 1-mile, out-and-back trail with a small loop at the turnaround spot. The trailhead, which sits at 8,840 feet in elevation, has wheelchair-accessible parking, restrooms, and picnic tables; along the trail, there are also several benches. Coyote Valley is a level trail topped with packed gravel, so the park notes that gloves might be handy for people using wheelchairs here. While exploring this trail, you’re likely to see elk off in the distance, wildflowers, and lots of other wildlife along the Colorado River.
Marmot Run Trail
This 1.8-mile trail is universally accessible and runs along the Uncompahgre River and Ridgway Reservoir. Marmot Run Trail is located inside Ridgway State Park, a popular choice for visitors with limited mobility because of its barrier-free design. Wheelchair users can also access campsites, picnic areas, fishing spots, and trails. Along the aptly named Marmot Run Trail, you’re likely to see tons of marmots, waterfowl, and other wildlife.