October is Disability Awareness Month, where we celebrate contributions to our society by disabled people. It’s also an opportunity to look critically at how far we have to go to provide true access for those with disabilities.
Accessibility in our parks is a priority and a core value at King County Parks. Parks has started working with a consultant to conduct an ADA self-evaluation and transition plan for all King County Parks. As important as ADA standards are, we also want to think beyond just meeting the baseline.
One of the ways we’re hoping to do is that by working with Beneficial Designs, Inc. to assess backcountry trails. The process included wheeling a device over terrain to collect data such as maximum grade, average grade, typical cross slope to better inform and prepare those looking to access our parks and trails.
The data is currently being analyzed to be used in new backcountry signage, parks webpages, our county-wide Geographic Information System (GIS) maps. We will also use this data to identify where we can improve access and amenities.
We have plans to continue this assessment with Beneficial Designs with more backcounty trails in the coming years.
In the meantime, here’s a round-up of our accessible parks and trails to try:
- Boulevard Lane Park (Kent)
- We’re including this playground because of plans to replace the existing playground equipment with ADA-accessible play structures. The pathway to the playground will also be repaved to improve ADA accessibility.
- Burke-Gilman Trail
- The entire trail is ADA accessible. Disability access is best from Gasworks Park and Log Boom Park.
- Cedar River Trail
- This trail follows the Cedar River along a historic railroad route between the river and State Route 169. Paved portions (such as at Liberty Park) are ADA accessible, but unpaved sections are not. Disability access is at Liberty Park.
- Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park (Issaquah)
- Outdoors for All demonstrates what mountain biking with adaptive equipment looks like.
- East Lake Sammamish Trail
- Completed segments feature 12-foot-wide asphalt surfaces with two-foot gravel shoulders, providing the highest degree of accessibility to all ages and abilities. The final segment is currently under construction, with completion expected by end of 2023.
- Green River Trail
- This trail winds more than 19 miles from Cecil Moses Park near Seattle’s south boundary to North Green River Park in south Kent near Auburn. The trail is paved over its entire length with some low-volume roadway segments. When completed, will be fully accessible for persons with disabilities.
- Sammamish River Trail
- This trail is paved its entire length and is one of King County’s most popular regional trails. The trail offers extraordinary views of the river, the broad Sammamish River Valley, Cascade foothills and Mt. Rainier. The trail is ADA accessible except for two short sections that have grades below standards (one located just east of 96th Ave NE in Bothell, and the other located just north of NE 145th St.) Disability access is from Wilmot Park and Redmond City Hall.
- Soos Creek Trail
- This paved trail follows a swath of freshwater wetlands and forests along a salmon-spawning stream on Kent’s East Hill. The area is now largely a residential area but retains a rural feel. The trail is completely paved, but there are some grades that do not meet ADA standards.
See you out there, this month and every month!