Did you know that there are trails at a couple of Conservation Halton parks that are designed to help people in wheelchairs enjoy getting outside and into nature? And did you also know that there are all-terrain wheelchairs available to help people get on those trails? I know! I think it’s pretty awesome, too.
The last time we were at Crawford Lake Conservation Area, Alex and I enjoyed walking one of the wide, groomed paths as part of our hike. We followed it from a gorgeous lookout that provides a great view over the Nassagaweya Canyon. I was so excited that this part of the Escarpment trail made it possible for anyone – on legs or on wheels – to meander through the forest and enjoy the lookout.
I decided to contact my friends over at Conservation Halton to find out a little more about their all-terrain wheelchair loaner program and accessibility in their parks. Here’s what I found out:
- The chairs can be used by any person, so they are a great option for people with broken bones or sprains, elderly park guests who can no longer navigate a trail on their own, as well as wheelchair users.
- There are two adult and two child chairs at Crawford Lake and one adult chair available at Mountsberg Conservation Area.
Wheelchairs are available on a first come, first served basis. Visitors simply show up at the park and staff will walk you through filling out a form and then through the operation of the chair and trails that it can be used on. The park will even store your personal chair or assistive device in a safe location until you return from your adventure on the trail.
There are some important things you need to consider if you are planning on borrowing a chair:
- The chairs are not self-propelled, which means that they must be pushed by a second person. People who use self-propelled wheelchairs may find they prefer their own chair and we can help provide trail info to choose the best trail for their ability level/chair.
- The weight of the chair combined with the weight of the occupant should be taken into account when deciding who should accompany someone to push the chair. It can be a fairly physical task, especially when navigating hills.
So, which trails are best for using a wheelchair at Crawford Lake or Mountsberg? The park staff mentioned that the Wildlife Walkway at Mountsberg was renovated to meet AODA standards in 2016 and is a great option for wheelchair users. The other trails in the parks do not officially meet AODA standards so people are encouraged to contact the parks directly for information on their trails that are best for their unique needs and abilities. Conservation Halton really wants to help all their park guests make an informed choice about what trail best meets their needs!