St. John is well-known for its spectacular and diverse hiking trails, which are frequented by thousands of mostly able-bodied visitors every year. The trails wind through beautiful wilderness areas in the Virgin Islands National Park.
But what if your mobility is limited by age or by being in a wheelchair? Well the good news is that two of the trails are accessible to those who can’t get around easily. This means that not only the elderly or wheelchair bound can now hike, but also mothers with toddlers or babies in strollers.
The first trail starts at Cinnamon Bay campground and winds through the ruins of an old Danish plantation factory. Instead of a dirt path, visitors will find concrete walkways and raised wood boardwalks. There are also toe rails and grooved handrails to ensure visitors’ safety.
The other one is the Francis Bay Accessible Trail. This 650-foot wooden boardwalk leads from the road to Francis Bay, and passes through mangroves and sea grapes on the way to an overlook at a pond frequented by birding enthusiasts.
Neither of these trails are particularly long, but they are better than nothing. The park service faces difficulty in making trails accessible to the disabled because they are usually very steep and narrow, and would be difficult to access in case of an emergency or accident.