There’s nothing like the great outdoors! With the right gear and a good plan, even rough terrain can’t impede your path.
21% of people ages 15 and older have disabilities. Of those, 50% are adults 65 and older. Despite these numbers, more and more adults are hitting the trails on a rousing wheelchair hiking adventure.
Rolling your wheelchair through lush sceneries offers a number of mental and physical benefits. In addition to exercising your mind and body, wheelchair hiking also gives you the chance to enjoy the world around you.
Ready to roll out? Here are our seven tips to make your next outdoor wheelchair hike a success!
Hike Up the Research First
Before you hit the trails, it’s important to know where you’re going. That way, you can properly prepare for the journey.
First, check out the trails in your area. You can enquire online or ask other hikers for recommendations and detailed information about the trails. From there, you can determine the accessibility of the trails nearby before you even leave the house.
State and Federal parks will let you know which trails are fully ADA-accessible on their websites.
Keep an eye out for descriptions that detail the trail’s surface texture. This will help you determine the trail’s difficulty level and possible incline.
Sometimes, official websites fall short, and the descriptions aren’t enough to help you prepare. When this happens, don’t stop researching. Instead, look for forums from other hikers.
Feel free to ask them questions about the trail’s accessibility.
They can give you a firsthand account of what to expect before your wheelchair hiking expedition begins.
People love sharing their experiences online. These recaps of their own adventures can help you prep for yours.
Once you know where you’re going, it’s important to equip yourself with the right gear.
As long as you have the right equipment, hiking is possible for anyone, regardless of their mobility. An adaptive wheelchair for hiking is a great place to start.
These wheelchairs are often equipped with mountain bike tires, which are ideal for any rocky terrain.
If you haven’t explored the trails yet, a trail rider wheelchair can help you test out the path. Since difficulties vary, it helps to arrive ready with the right equipment. Otherwise, your everyday wheelchair might not handle a bumpy path.
Many trail wheelchairs use levers. Instead of using your shoulder muscles, you’ll use your biceps and pecs to propel you forward. These wheelchairs provide a great chance for you to build up your arm strength while exploring the great outdoors.
Not sure which wheelchair to look for? You can speak to a physician to find the right wheelchair that suits your needs.
Invite Friends Along
The next time you’re out, take a deep breath of fresh air. Turn a beautiful day into a memory by inviting friends and family along on your hike.
After all, hiking is usually a shared activity. Wheelchair hiking with a friend will give you company, someone to talk to as you explore. The company can also keep you motivated to keep going.
That way, you won’t bail before you set out on your hike.
An estimated 25.5 million Americans have disabilities that make it difficult for them to travel outside of their homes. This number accounts for 8.5% of the population age 5 and older. By inviting someone with you, you can both spend a beautiful day outside instead of cooped up at home.
Before you go, make sure you both understand the terrain. Otherwise, your friend might expect a simple walk in the park versus a rocky hike.
Whether you’re planning a short wheelchair hike or a complicated trek, make sure to bring snacks!
Choose food items with plenty of proteins and carbohydrates. Snacks such as trail mix, beef jerky, or peanut butter protein bars will keep you fueled and good to go.
Before you head out on your hike, make sure to drink plenty of water. Hydrating before you start hiking is crucial.
Pack a bottle of cold water to take with you as well.
Take a few sips every 20 minutes so you can maintain your hydration levels throughout the trek.
Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and a hat, too. The more comfortable you are at the start of your hike, the better you’ll feel by the end of it.
Check for Local Hiking Groups
You don’t have to go at it alone! Instead, check for local organizations that are planning group hikes in your area. This is a great chance for you to meet like-minded people in your community who want to hit the trails.
Hiking with other people will also prove beneficial if you experience a wheelchair malfunction or other issues during the hike. Make sure a friend or family member knows you’re heading out before you go.
You don’t have to stick to typical trails. Instead, research horse boarding facilities and ask about their trails. Maybe they’re open to the public.
You can also look for golf courses, city parks, or ATV trails. There are so many different trails to choose from, depending on the terrain you’re looking for.
If you’ve tried a beginner’s path, push yourself a little. Make it an adventure and enjoy the ride.
However, it’s also important to remain realistic. If this is your first wheelchair hike, know your strengths and abilities. In time, you can handle the tougher terrains.
Either way, have fun with it!
Rolling Through the Great Outdoors: Seven Tips for Wheelchair Hiking
Roll out on your next wheelchair hiking adventure. With these seven tips, you can ensure your next hike is a safe yet thrilling success. Now grab your hiking buddy and head for that trail!