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ADA Trail widens the scope for those looking for nature in South Whidbey

Vanessa Link on the new ADA Trail at Trustland Trails: “We went on it three times in one day.” - Photo courtesy of Kathy Link
Vanessa Link on the new ADA Trail at Trustland Trails: “We went on it three times in one day.”
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Kathy Link

It’s been open less than a month, but the new ADA loop at Trustland Trails between Clinton and Bayview has proven to be a big hit.

“We enjoyed your loop trail so much, we went on it three times in one day,” Vanessa Link, 13, of Clinton, wrote in an e-mail forwarded to the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, which owns and manages the property and built the trail.

“My daughter is very picky about what she drives on,” said Kathy Link, Vanessa’s mother. “If she approved it, that means it’s pretty good.”

The ADA Trail is a half-mile nature loop built to the strict specifications of the Americans Disability Act for use by people in wheelchairs, or for those who requires a flat, smooth surface on which to walk, said Parks Director Terri Arnold.

It’s the only trail of its kind on Whidbey Island, and a perfect fit for people such as Vanessa Link, who gets around in a motorized wheelchair.

“Everyone’s just been so grateful,” Arnold said Monday. “It’s an easy trail to walk, and it’s easy to get to for the elderly and the disabled. It’s quite nice, and very picturesque.”

Commencing from the newly built asphalt parking area off Craw Road, the ADA Trail passes through a blown-down section of trees, through a field of deep salal and into a little valley behind the area’s new picnic pavilion.

About a half-mile long, the trail of tightly compacted gravel is about 6 to 8 feet wide, with no more than a 5-percent grade at any point, and a maximum 2-percent slant from side to side, Arnold said.

She said the trail was constructed with $200,000 from the park district’s last approved bond measure, and another $56,000 grant for local trails from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.

In the planning stages for about three years, the trail was built in about two weeks by Dirt Movers of Clinton and was opened in late August, Arnold said.

“It was a long, complicated project, but it’s been overwhelmingly accepted,” Arnold said. “I go there two or three times every single day, and there are always cars in the parking lot.”

She said that besides people in wheelchairs, the trail also is popular with people who are old or infirm, and need assistance to walk.

“I was on the trail the other day and met a woman who told me her husband was in a wheelchair and had been a shut-in for two years,” Arnold said. “Now he asks to go there regularly.”

Local health officials also are enthusiastic.

“A community needs access like that,” Melinda Kurtz, a registered nurse and a coordinator with the Island County Health Department, said Monday.

“It’s a beautiful trail,” Kurtz added. “When the weather’s good, everybody likes to get outdoors. This allows people with mobility issues to be outside. Everybody

I know who has been on it has loved it.”

The new ADA Tail is part of Trustland Trails, a 200-acre preserve transferred by the state Department of Natural Resources to the park district in 2007.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust helped coordinate the transfer of the $3.8 million rural parcel in 2006 as part of a package of property transfers in Island County.

The property is near the intersection of Highway 525 and Craw Road, behind the House of Prayer church.

Arnold said the trail was one of four improvement projects in the area, including the new picnic pavilion and information kiosk, and the new asphalt parking area that also was built to ADA specifications.

There’s also a new connector equestrian trail from the parking area to the main trail, Arnold said.

But for the Link family, it’s all about the new ADA Trail.

“It opens up a new world for us,” said Kathy Link. “It helps Vanessa in so many ways. We’re very happy about it.”

As for Vanessa herself, she wrote: “Now, whenever it’s nice outside, I can guarantee we will consider heading to Trustland Trails for the time of our lives.”

For information about Trustland Trails, call 221-5484.

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