One of the things I enjoy about living in California is all the accessible parks and places. There are several websites that lists parks with accessible trails and such, and some also include pictures. I wanted to take this one step further by making a video/photo montage of each of the parks I have enjoyed going to. My way of sharing with others in wheelchairs what the park looks like and how accessible it is.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tony Look Trail

The start of the Tony Look Trail is located below the Stevens Creek Reservoir. Make a left turn at the Stevens Creek County Park entrance, which is just before the reservoir. The road will go past a large parking area on the left. Continue to the right, go over a bridge, and you’ll see on the right a small parking lot with a small building. It has one handicap parking spot. The start of the Tony Look Trail is a short ways down the road and on the left.

Even though there is a handicap logo sign at the beginning of the trail, I wouldn’t say that this trail meets the ADA guidelines, mainly due to the angle of the trail’s slope. For wheelchairs, it’s a very short trail and about 3/4 of it is uphill. The trail is wide and rocky at some parts. The trail finally levels out and you’ll have a panoramic view of the back of the reservoir.

The only thing, in my opinion, that makes this trail worth hiking, is the beauty of the trail itself. Most of the trail is shaded by a canopy of trees. To the right of the trail and below, there is a creek. Fall and Spring would be the best time to visit.

After taking a hike on this trail, you can take a very short drive to the Stevens Creek Reservoir. It has two handicap parking spots and the back of the reservoir has a wide trail, giving you a beautiful view of the reservoir and the hills above it. See my video of the Stevens Creek Reservoir - 2012, April

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Joseph D. Grant County Park

Joseph D. Grant County Park is the largest Santa Clara County regional park and has 52 miles of trails. Some of these trails are wheelchair accessible, though the dirt trails can be challenging.

The park though does have a short paved whole access trail that is very scenic. There is also a longer paved trail that has a meadow on one side and a picnic area on the other.

Next to the whole access trail, is the Hotel Trail. You need to go down a steep path to get to it. The dirt trail is wide and mostly flat, but during the summer, as I found out, it can be very dusty. In fact, after being on the trail for two miles, I had to turn around because there was too much dust in the air, not good for ventilators.

The other trail that I checked out was the Yerba Buena Trail. There is small parking lot just beyond where you turn into the main park area, and it has one handicap parking spot. The beginning of the trail has a slight incline, but after that it’s pretty flat. The trail itself is a mixture of dirt and rocks. I enjoyed this trail and you’ll get a panoramic view of Grant Lake. The trail eventually has a very steep drop and I didn’t chance it.

I saw several handicap parking spots in the main park area, along with accessible bathrooms.

The first time I went there was in the spring and it was beautiful. The second time I went was during the summer and I found it too hot and dusty. With all the trees decorating the surrounding hills, it is probably a very scenic place to visit during the fall.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Horseshoe Lake - Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve

Horseshoe Lake - Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, is located on Skyline Boulevard (CA 35).

I enjoyed this short, but scenic, wheelchair accessible trail which skirts along the lake. The dirt harden trail though was rough going at times and could use some maintenance. The end of the trail connects to the Ridge Trail, which crosses over a bridge. After crossing it, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Horseshoe Lake. The trail continues on to a trail junction. The trail to the left is the Horseshoe Loop Trail, the one of the right is the Tree Farm Trail.

I found the first part of the Horseshoe Loop Trail to be much smoother and enjoyable than the wheelchair accessible trail. Eventually, the trail leads to a small, steep hill which will be challenging for manual wheelchairs. The trail continues on, and after crossing a bridge, it becomes more narrow and you’ll need to wheel past overgrowth as the trail becomes steeper. Finally you’ll make it to the top where you’ll have a wonderful view of the lake. It is a very precarious spot though, and I found myself inches away from the drop off. As much as I was elated to finally make it up to this view of the lake, it was too risky at parts of the trail for me to consider to make a return trip, or even to recommend.

The Tree Farm Trail, though very wide, is a very steep trail with rocks and tree roots ready to slam into your wheels. Even with my power chair, I found it very difficult to navigate. Coming back down was even more challenging and a couple of times my wheels skidded out of control.

Throughout the morning, I saw several deer, lots of birds, and a snake sun bathing on a trail. There is plenty of parking and an accessible bathroom.

Weather can change quickly. When I first got there, there was a heavy mist hanging over the area. An hour later though, the sun finally broke though, so come prepared.

I would rate Horseshoe Lake 3 out of 5 stars. The wheelchair accessible trail is bumpy, but the tradeoff is the beauty of the lake and area. It would be a nice place to have a short hike and then have a picnic.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baylands Nature Preserve - 2014

The Baylands Nature Preserve is 1,940 acres of undisturbed marshland, with miles of multi-use trails woven in and around it. It is one of the best areas for bird watching on the West Coast.

There are three main ways to enter the Preserve. First is from the Embarcadero Road, which will lead you to the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center.  This dirt trail offers a close up view of various bird species.  It’s one of my favorite places for bird watching and for bird photography.  There is also the Duck Pond, but I have only been there a couple of times, mainly because of all the duck poop on the ground.

If you take a right turn at the stop sign, right before entering the Preserve, the road will lead you to Byxbee Park.  There is one handicap parking space, and an accessible bathroom.  If you enjoy a long hike, this is a great place to start from.  You’ll hike past the Mayfield Slough and then eventually see the Charleston Slough.

The third way to enter Baylands Nature Preserve is by taking San Antonio Road.  There are a couple handicap parking spots available, and an accessible bathroom.  What I like about this entrance is that, not only can you hike along the miles of trails, but you have Adobe Creek on the left of the trail, which is a great place to see the American White Pelican.  To the right of the trail you have a viewing platform that gives you a view of the Charleston Slough.  The bonus of parking here is that to the right of the parking area is one of the entrances to Shoreline Lake.  Another wonderful place for bird watching.

Most of the trails are flat and are made up of hard-packed dirt. The only drawback is that you’ll accumulate a lot of trail dust.

Overall, this is a wonderful place to hike and to enjoy seeing many various types of bird species.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Looking forward to 2014

It has been another exciting year of exploring new accessible hiking trails. We’re so fortunate here in the San Francisco Bay Area with having so many trails that are accessible for wheelchairs.  

I’m looking forward to 2014 and finding new hiking trails to enjoy and share with others via my videos.  Already in the works for upcoming videos are - Crissy Field in San Francisco, and Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto.

Accessible hiking trails that I plan on exploring so far in 2014 include Coyote Hills Regional Park in Alameda County,  Ridge Trail in San Mateo County, and a revisit to the Chickadee Nature Trail in San Mateo County.  Last time I went there a tree had fallen over the trail, preventing me from accessing the rest of the trail.

Happy Holidays!
Mark


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sawyer Camp Trail

Located in San Mateo County, the Sawyer Camp Trail runs above the Crystal Springs Reservoir. The trail is mostly flat and marked for two-way traffic and it has mile markers every half -mile. There are two handicap parking spots and there is an accessible bathroom at the beginning of the trail and another one a couple of miles further down. There are no water fountains on the trail, so bring your own water. There are also benches located at different spots along the trail, most of them giving you a panoramic view of the reservoir.

The trail is multi-use ... joggers, cyclists, parents with strollers, and is wheelchair accessible. Because this trail is so popular, during the weekends the trail can be very crowded and you have to keep aware of cyclists that at times can come zipping by.

Weather can be tricky. Fog at times comes over the mountains and the trail can be cast in a light mist, so plan ahead with extra clothing, just in case.

Overall, I really enjoyed cruising along this beautiful trail, but the best time to enjoy this trail is on a weekday so that you can avoid the crowds.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Memorial Park - Seasons

I've been visiting Memorial Park in Cupertino for many years. Even though it is a small park, it makes up for it with the fountains, waterfalls, and the ducks and geese that call it home. It also is home to the Cupertino Veterans Memorial which honors local veterans.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

San Bruno Mountain State Park

San Bruno Mountain State Park has several hiking trails including a wheelchair-accessible trail - Bog Trail. As I traveled along this trail, though, I could see that it was no longer accessible. It became too narrow and I got stuck a couple of times and I eventually had to turn around and go back.

Old Guadalupe Trail is a wide, paved trail. The reason it isn't labeled an accessible trail, though, is because it goes uphill for about 0.4 miles and doesn't meet the ADA trail guidelines. However, in a power chair this is trail is fine, but for someone in a manual wheelchair, it could be quite the workout.

I also did a hike on Saddle Loop Trail. This is a 2.9-mile trail that winds around part of the mountain and has a great view of San Francisco. This trail, though, is a rough, dirt trail and traveling along it in my power chair became very bumpy at times. Power chairs with small wheels could have trouble in some places and I wouldn't recommend a person in a manual wheelchair to hike it.

I have informed the San Mateo Park Department that Bog Trail is no longer accessible and for asked them to correct their website.

Here is my latest video:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Capitola By the Sea - 2013

Capitola is one of my favorite places to visit.  It is easy to get around in a wheelchair.   During the summer, a wheelchair-accessible walkway is built and it juts out onto the beach.  Most of the restaurants have wheelchair access, and Mr. Toots Coffee House has a specially-made elevator for wheelchair access.

It can get crowded, especially during the summer months, so I've always had tried to go there in the morning. 

Here is my first video of the year, which also includes my song, "Capitola Dreamin."


Monday, October 8, 2012

Lighthouse Field State Beach

Lighthouse Field State Beach is home to California's first surfing museum and it overlooks one of the local surfing hot spots - Steamer Lane.

It is one of my favorite places in Santa Cruz to visit because there is a long, paved walkway which stretches along the coastline, giving you a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean and the beaches below.

You can watch and listen to the seals on Seal Rock, or enjoy watching the surfers as they ride the waves. There are several parking areas near the surfing museum and most of them have at least one handicap parking spot.