Out and About: ADA Accessibility in Outdoor Recreation

ADA outdoor recreation

We all benefit from fresh air, exercise, and sport in the great American outdoors. This is why the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that recreational facilities be made accessible to people with disabilities of all types. Here are a few of the highlights of ADA requirements regarding outdoor recreation:


If a person with a disability desires to fish off of a pier, there are specific requirements in the design of that pier that make access possible and safe. Marinas must be designed to facilitate access, and at least 5% of boarding piers (when provided) must be accessible and served by an accessible route.


Public pools are required to provide accessible means of entry, either by pool lift, transfer system or sloped entry. The same goes for sand bottom pools, wave action pools or leisure rivers.


Accessible routes must be at least 60″ wide with handrails, 48” wide without, and are required to connect all the areas of a course that the golfer needs to reach including golf cart rental areas, bag drop areas, practice putting greens, restrooms (inside and on the course), and weather shelters.


ADA accessibility guidelines apply to trails designed for pedestrian use (not those for equestrians, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, ATVs, etc.) and for multi-use trails that include hiking. A firm and stable surface is required, but not necessarily paving, handrails or edge protection.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  – John Muir

Regulations regarding outdoor recreation facilities are complex and ADA accessibility requirements are continually being reviewed, discussed and updated.

If you are a person with a disability who has tried to participate in outdoor recreation, only to encounter barriers, contact us. Access is the law, and we at Access Advocates can help you understand your legal rights and work with you to take the steps necessary to bring a recreation area into compliance.