Adaptive Trails vs. ADA Trails

One of our focus points at the Adaptive Trails Coalition is promoting the building and modification of trails to be suitable for disabled athletes riding adaptive equipment alongside non-disabled peers. We do not focus on ADA-compliant trails and this information should not be perceived as such. ADA compliance requires wide and level paths of travel with solid surfaces that are suitable for use by everyday wheelchairs. Adaptive trails provide much more access to the great outdoors, but necessitate the use of adaptive equipment.

Adaptive Trail Features

Below is a list of non-negotiable features that will enable most adaptive mountain biking equipment to successfully access a trail.


These features are meant to be a starting point and should be considered the minimum standard. They may create difficulty for less experienced athletes and/or be challenging for athletes with varying physical abilities, so please consider exceeding these standards whenever possible.

Trail Width

  • Average: 48″ (1.2m)
  • Minimum: 40″ (1m)
  • Safety shoulder: 8″ (0.5m) minimum


  • Can be widely variable
  • Must be predictable
  • Majority: 95% compacted

Running Slope

  • 20% (11 degrees) or less
  • 8′ (2.5m) or more between rollers

Cross Slope

  • Straightaways: 8-14% (5-8 degrees) or less
  • Turns, berms, TTFs: 58% (30 degrees) or less
  • Safety shoulders: 33% (18.5 degrees) or less

Corner Radius

  • Straightaways: 20′ (6m) or more
  • Turns, berms, TTFs: 15′ (4.5m) or more
  • Exits lower than entries


  • Full width TTFs: 12″ or more
  • Partial width TTFs: 6″ or more


  • If unavoidable: 48″ (1.2m) or wider
  • Wider if not straight


  • Likely

These are based off of the aMTB Black rating from the Adaptive Trail Standards from the Kootenay Adaptive Sports Association. Used with permission.

Legality of Adaptive Equipment

Details of legislation is variable across different jurisdictions, but the short of it is that if adaptive equipment is 36″ or less in width and is designed for an individual with a disability, it’s legal for access in almost every area, including designated wilderness. This includes e-bikes. You will find that almost all adaptive athletes do not abuse these rights and simply want a level playing field. More resources will be posted soon.


The following are diagnoses of athletes that you can riding adaptive equipment on trails.

  • Spinal Cord Injuries: includes paraplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia and everything in between.
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Scoliosis / Kyphosis
  • Spina Bifida
  • Limb and Digit Amputations
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries – Often able to walk without any assistance, TBI’s can have balance issues that require little or a lot of adaptive equipment.

This list of disabilities is more of a reminder that there are more than just one type of disability trying to access trails, and more importantly, these disabilities can vary greatly in severity. For example, there are many veterans with various levels of amputations (below knee, above knee, hip disarticulation).

Trail safety. Disability. Law. Common good. Access to better health & wellness. More coming soon.