Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Accessible Parks

by Kathryn Hunter

Everyone benefits from time spent outside, but for individuals with disabilities, getting out into nature can be difficult. Check out these locations for a variety of accessible outdoor adventures — just remember to contact the park before you go to check current conditions, since weather events often impact trails and other features.
Photo by Earl Nottingham / TPWD


Visitors in wheelchairs can easily access three stocked fishing ponds at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, where catching a fish is almost guaranteed. No fishing license is required; gear and bait are provided. The visitors center and 0.8-mile Wetlands Trail are also wheelchair-accessible. Along the trail, stop at the animal sounds station and bee house; at the visitors center, check out the fish hatchery, aquariums and dive theater presentation.

Photo by Sonja Sommerfeld / TPWD


Though only 45 miles from downtown Houston, this park feels like another, wilder world. The half-mile, fully paved Creekfield Lake Nature Trail winds through wildlife-filled wetlands (alligators!); touchable wildlife bronzes line the trail. At the Nature Center, explore a unique hands-on alligator discovery area and tactile model of the park. The George Observatory, open on Saturdays, has a ramp to the viewing deck and an accessible interior. Also accessible: cabin, amphitheater, some screened shelters and campsites, trail to fishing pier, wildlife viewing platform.

Photo by Chase Fountain / TPWD


An ADA-accessible playscape at Government Canyon invites young visitors to enjoy nature-based play on structures like climbing rocks, stumps and a ropes feature in the shape of a giant spider web. The space is wide open, with many tactile surfaces to explore. The 1.23-mile Discovery Trail provides an accessible hike on mostly level terrain. Also accessible: some picnic areas and campsites.

Photo © Sandy Dunham


This otherworldly setting, where primeval waters surround ancient cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, offers a peaceful escape. Cabins 3 and 7 are ADA-accessible, complete with kitchen counters 2 inches lower than standard, a bathtub with handrails and an ADA shower. An accessible fishing pier is available, and a new accessible restroom with showers was completed in late 2018. Check out special, ranger-led programming for most abilities, including a popular “owl prowl.” Also accessible: some campsites, two screened shelters, group recreational hall, picnic area, headquarters and gift shop.

Photo by Earl Nottingham / TPWD


This popular park in the Hill Country hosts a mentored white-tailed deer hunting workshop for the mobility-impaired, with guides and all equipment provided. Fishing and swimming are also favorite activities — two fishing piers are accessible, and the shoreline of the lake is accessible from many points throughout the park. Also accessible: some tent sites, RV sites and cabins; paths to playgrounds.

Photo by Sonja Sommerfeld / TPWD


Where the Comanche and Tonkawa once camped and the Civilian Conservation Corps built stone structures, you’ll find a park that connects with history and nature. Yurt 2 is accessible inside and out, featuring a concrete pathway and patio, raised fire ring and picnic table (access is via a caliche surface). Also accessible: boardwalk to wildlife viewing platform, 1.5-mile Eagle Trail (caliche surface), shelter area bathroom with ADA stalls and showers, pool with ADA entry options.



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