All Access and Easy Trails in the San Francisco Bay Area
Bay area land management agencies have increased access to parks and preserves by installing all-access trails, and parking to accommodate handicapped vehicles. All (sometimes called full) access trails are appropriate for folks in wheelchairs, parents with strollers, or walkers looking for an easy trail experience. Some other trails in the bay area not specifically designated as all-access may be suitably gentle for hikers, but probably exceed the limits of wheelchairs; see the easy trails section below.
Discovery Trail, Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve
Creek Trail, Crane Creek Regional Park
Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail, Mount Diablo State Park. Almost half of this trail is paved and wheelchair accessible.
Contra Costa Canal Trail, East Bay Regional Park District
Año Nuevo State Park. Año Nuevo Point Trail meets ADA trail standards for 1.3 miles. Contact the park for additional all access opportunities.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Redwood Grove Loop Trail is an 0.8 mile level circuit through lovely redwoods.
Chickadee Trail, Huddart County Park
Los Alamitos Creek Trail, City of San Jose. Paved trail near Almaden Lake Park.
. Redwood Trail, Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.
Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve. Llagas Creek Loop Trail is a 1/2 mile all-acces trail.
Alpine Pond Trail, Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve.
Ridge Trail (to Horseshoe Lake), Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve.
Easy trails and hikes:
Verna Dunshee Trail, Mount Tamalpais. A 0.7 mile level paved path skirts Tam's east peak. Easy parking and access, plus restrooms and small picnic area.
Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds. Level trails edge along a marsh and past wildlife ponds.
Ragle Ranch Regional Park. Gentle paths through a seasonal wetland and old ranch.
Old St. Hilary's Open Space Preserve Heathcliff Fire Road takes a rolling course along a grassy ridgetop in Tiburon, but Vistazo Fire Road, further down the hill, is nearly flat.
Napa River Ecological Reserve. Flat paths visit a flood plain. Good birding.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Ritchey Canyon Trail is mostly flat for its first mile.
Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve. Bicentennial Bike Path is paved and level.
Santa Venetia Marsh Open Space Preserve. Flat levee paths.
Santa Margarita Open Space Preserve. One very small hill and a level path around it.
Abbotts Lagoon Trailhead, Point Reyes National Seashore. Not completely level, but easy.
Rush Creek Open Space Preserve. Pinheiro Fire road keeps to a level grade.
Rodeo Beach Trailhead, Marin Headlands. The trail around Rodeo Lagoon is very easy.
Indian Valley Open Space Preserve. Almost all trails at Indian Valley are moderate climbs, but the main street here, Indian Valley Fire Road, is flat.
Deer Island Open Space Preserve. You'll face a little elevation change here, but not much.
Sky Oaks Trailhead, Mount Tamalpais. Lagunitas Fire Road is the easiest of the trails which circuit the watershed lakes.
Tennessee Valley Trailhead, Marin Headlands. Tennessee Valley Trail is mostly flat.
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. Pioneer Trail is paved and flat.
Anthony Chabot Regional Park. Grass Valley Trail has some slight hills but is easy.
Coyote Hills. Easy flat paths through the marsh.
Crown Memorial Beach. Paved sidewalk-like paths near the bay.
Del Valle Regional Park. Nearly level East Shore Trail hugs the shore of the lake.
Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge. Don Edwards trails stretch out into the bay southeast of the Dumbarton Bridge. You know those salt ponds you glimpse out the airplane window on the way to SFO? These are those.
Garin Regional Park. Dry Creek and High Ridge trails make a nice easy loop.
Hayward Regional Shoreline. Perfectly flat trails wind through salt, brackish, and freshwater marshes on San Francisco Bay. Excellent bird watching and an interpretive center open on weekends.
Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline. The small park has a flat developed section around a lagoon, and a more primitive area with narrow trails that ascend to a ridgeline. The paved path is an ideal loop for parents with kids in strollers, and the entire lagoon area is wheelchair-accessible.
Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline. This is a large bayfront park with many flat dirt paths and a few paved trails. Point Isabel Regional Shoreline. Not only are trails flat and paved, but Point Isabel permits dogs off leash. Easy parking, restrooms, and picnic tables keep the rest of the family happy.
Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. Easy hiking with just a bit of elevation change.
Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area. Nearly flat broad paths through old quarry ponds. A great place to birdwatch.
Redwood Regional Park. Stream Trail, from the Canyon Meadow Staging Area, is paved and flat. The first mile of West Ridge Trail (from Skyline Gate Staging Area) is very gentle.
Rush Ranch Open Space Preserve. Two short and easy loops through marshland and an old pasture.
Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve After a short climb, a broad trail runs along a grassy ridge. Lots of picnic tables sprinkled throughout the preserve, but no restrooms.
Sycamore Grove Park. Mostly flat trails south of Livermore.
Arastradero Preserve. Most trails have only gentle elevation changes.
Bair Island. Levee paths along the edge of a marsh are flat and wide. The perimeter trail is exactly three miles, so this is a good spot for walking or jogging. Bair Island is a convenient destination, but the property is adjacent to US 101, and traffic noise is omnipresent.
Baylands Preserve. All but a handful of trails here are absolutely flat. The Hilltop Trails climb very gently, and the other level trails at Baylands are appropriate for walking, jogging, and wheelchair travel. Excellent birdwatching.
Ranch Road, Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park. A wide old ranch road leads to a vintage barn. Good for kids, but watch out for poison oak and stinging nettles.
Coal Mine Ridge. Well-graded trails make hiking nearly effortless at this small peninsula preserve. Nice mixture of woods, grassland, and oaks. Unfortunately, parking can be difficult.
Coyote Point Recreation Area and Coyote Point Museum. A combined visit to the museum and the recreation area makes for a nice day outing, particularly with children. A limited trail system will not present any challenges to athletic adults.
Crystal Springs Trail to Pulgas Water Temple. Although Crystal Springs Trail is easy, the proximity to the road and prevalence of poison oak make it unsuitable for young children. Wheelchair users can park at the water temple and take the very short gravel path to the temple.
Junipero Serra County Park. A network of trails runs throughout this small park. Good for beginning hikers, but beware of trailside poison oak.
Larry Lane Trail. This Portola Valley trail climbs easily into a pretty stretch of woods, where in clearings views stretch to the east. Total distance is about 1.7 miles. Scarce parking.
Milagra Ridge. Although there are no facilities and parking is very limited, Milagra Ridge is a great place for a short and easy hike. You can walk out-and-back on the paved trail, or use the small dirt paths. Excellent bird watching and nice views. The paved trail is suitable for wheelchairs or strollers, with assistance. Wheelchair users may have trouble squeezing around the gate at the trailhead.
Zinfandel Trail, Picchetti Ranch Area (becomes more difficult after junction with Orchard Loop Trail).
Portola Redwoods State Park. Redwood grove loop is flat.
Rancho San Antonio County Park/Open Space Preserve. Flat paths wind from the parking lot about 1 mile to Deer Hollow Farm.
Bog Trail, San Bruno Mountain County and State Park Gently graded 0.7 mile loop through coastal scrub and eucalyptus woods. No longer ADA compliant, but possibly accessible to wheelchair users.
San Bruno Mountain County and State Park. This loop offers a few hills.
Plaskon Nature Trail, San Pedro Valley Park. Short and sweet.
Weiler Ranch Road Trail, San Pedro Valley Park. A nearly flat route along a meadow.
Sawyer Camp Trail. Nearly flat paved path runs along San Francisco Watershed lands.
Shoreline at Mountain View. Flat trails, easy parking, and plenty of services, plus picnic grounds. Good bird watching.
Bald Mountain Trail, Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. Nearly level short 0.7 mile trail ends at a fabulous viewpoint. A good place for a picnic, but note that there is limited parking.
Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. Aquila Trail is a 1 mile loop with only slight elevation changes and is nicely-graded.
Thornewood Open Space Preserve. This easily-missed preserve on the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains offers a gentle out and back to a little lake.
Wilbur's Watch. An easy and short hike with incredible views near Pigeon Point.
Wheelchair rider's guide to the California coast
San Francisco Bay Area Wheelchair Accessible Trails
On-the-Level San Francisco http://www.onthelevelSF.com
Adventures from a Wheelchair http://irishsea-mark-videos.blogspot.com/