Accessible ways to get outside

Trails and parks don’t always cater to individuals with disabilities. Here are a few local places that offer clear, defined trails with minimal obstacles for those with physical disabilities. People can enjoy these outdoor activities without worrying about wheelchair access or other barriers.

Hoyt Arboretum
Nestled in Washington Park in SW Portland, Hoyt Arboretum is home to over 2,000 species of trees and plants and is often called a living museum. The park is free to the public and accessible by public transportation. There is a one-mile long ADA accessible walk, the map for which is on the arboretum’s website.

Several other trails with gentle slopes are available for those who require a less rigorous walk. The visitor center and its bathrooms are also wheelchair accessible, and guide dogs are allowed on-leash. Saturday guided tours begin in April, but private tours can also be arranged for $3 per person.

Blue Lake Regional Park
This park is along the Columbia River in NE Portland and is open to many different activities, including fishing, hiking, swimming and several other sports. Service animals are permitted in all areas of the park. Much of the park is wheelchair accessible, including the restrooms, wetlands observation deck, picnic areas, park paths and the trail loop that circles the entire park. Blue Lake also offers several free parking days per year.

Geocaching is more interactive than walking around a park. The basic concept is that caches are placed in various hidden places around the world and attached to coordinates, and people use GPS devices and clues to locate the loot. The one rule: If you take something, leave something.

Enter Portland into the search bar on the geocaching website, and you can find many different caches close to you while discovering new, interesting locations. New Mobility has a useful guide to accessible geocaching, including the website Handicaching, where you can enter a cache’s waypoint and find a description of its difficulty and accessibility level that another person with a disability has left.

Spring Park
Located in Milwaukie next to the Willamette River, this park features a 0.6 mile round-trip trail to view the wetlands. The main trail is wheelchair accessible, but the seasonal passage—reachable when the river is low—to Elk Rock Island is much harder to navigate. There is limited parking available, but the park is accessible by public transit.

There are picnic tables at the entrance for those who need to rest before or after hiking. This area is currently under restoration, so be sure to stay on designated trails and only take photos while interacting with nature.