A Model for Accessibility: Learning on Crotched Mountain Trails

A sustainable trails that complies with the trail accessibility guidelines without changing the setting or outdoor experience.

by Peter Jensen, Trail Planner/Builder with, Peter S. Jensen & Associates


Accessible tread through boulders with an easy grade

At Crotched Mountain in Greenfield, New Hampshire, sustainable trails are also accessible trails. The Crotched Mountain Foundation’s new trail system was designed and built to the proposed federal trail accessibility guidelines and was official opened in June 2011.

The trail system is fully accessible, ranging from a wetland loop at the lowest point to a stunning vista at the summit of a knoll 300 feet above. The entire trail is perched on the southerly side of Crotched Mountain with views of Mt. Monadnock.

The trail system provides a total of 3.6 miles of pedestrian recreation through lowbush blueberry fields, pine forests, dense hardwoods, meadows, and wetlands. It provides a thorough visual explanation of the morphology of this part of southwestern New Hampshire.

Construction of these trails was accomplished over a four-year period using native materials for the stone trail structures and the trail surfacing. Bridges and boardwalks were constructed of imported materials. The majority of the trail system is a 5 foot wide treadway. Other sections are 4 feet wide and 3 foot wide. A combination of machine built and hand built trail exists on the property.

This sustainable trail system has become the focal point for training workshops on trail development using the proposed federal trail accessibility guidelines.

Knoll Summit platform provides an accessible overlook

Knoll Summit platform provides an accessible overlook

Incorporating natural features into trail alignments

Incorporating natural features into trail alignments

For more information

For more information on the trails at Crotched Mountain please visit www.crotchedmountain.org.

Published October 11, 2017

About the Author

Peter Jensen is a trail planner/builder with more than 35 years experience planning and constructing pedestrian trails throughout the Northeast. His company is a member of the Professional Trailbuilders Association. He worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club until 1988 when he started his own business in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. In early 2005 he reorganized the business into Peter S. Jensen & Associates, LLC. He served as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s representative to the U. S. Access Board’s Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas from 1997 to 1999 where he helped shape regulations for development of new trails, camping facilities, picnic sites, and beaches. He continues to plan, design, construction, and consult on the development of sustainable pedestrian trails. Training crew leaders, youth, volunteers, and agency/non-profit staff is also an important component of his work. He is a regular presenter at national conferences on pedestrian trail related topics.

More articles by this author

More Articles in this Category

2019 NRT Photo Contest Winners Announced

The results are in! Here are our picks from the 275 photos submitted for the 2019 photo contest.

Accessibility in the National Park Service

While notable advancements have been made, much is needed to break down the barriers and embrace greater inclusivity. Parks, programs, and leaders across the service need more education, guidance, support, and resources to create more welcoming experiences for a broad spectrum of audiences.

Best Practices of Accessibility in Parks and Recreation: A Delphi Survey of National Experts in Accessibility

As a result of frequent inquiries regarding best practices from practitioners, NCA initiated this research study in order to ascertain which practices in the field of parks and recreation accessibility management exceed the minimum standards set forth by the ADA and other disability-related legislation.

Visitor Expectations and Perceptions of Program and Physical Accessibility in the National Park Service

The purpose of the study was to identify the perceptions of people with disabilities relative to program and physical accessibility in the National Park Service.