Trails become friendlier for users with disabilities

By Jim DuFresne: For Complete Post, Click Here…

At some point in our lives, we all can use a little help down the trail — aging baby boomers, a toddler, a parent pushing a stroller, an expectant mother, somebody who walks with a cane, somebody else who suffers from asthma.

The days of covering 20 miles with a 30-pound pack on our back might be a thing of the past, but not the desire to spend an afternoon in the woods seeing where this winding footpath takes us.

That’s why what use to be “handicap accessible” is now “universal access” with organizations like the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy pursuing a goal to preserve the outdoors for everybody.

“For a variety of reasons, many people in our community simply aren’t able to go on the hikes or enjoy the outdoor experiences that so many of us take for granted,” conservancy Executive Director Glen Chown said.

“Everyone deserves access to nature, and we’re thrilled to offer universally accessible ways to enjoy some of our region’s best natural attractions,” Chown said.

Universal access was one of the major goals of the conservancy’s Campaign for Generations, a $71.4-million, six-year fund-raising effort that will end on June 30.

But one result of the campaign can already be enjoyed along the M-22 corridor: two of Michigan’s most amazing universally accessible trails, scenic paths that were designed for people with disabilities in mind, but benefit everybody.

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