Porters assist a mobility-challenged hiker on a TrailRider wheelchair in the newest program at Strathcona Provincial Park.

TrailRider hikes park access

Strathcona Provincial Park program provides one-wheeled chair, porters for mobility-challenged visitors

Strathcona, the first and oldest provincial park in British Columbia, has now become even more accessible with the introduction of the “TrailRider” Program.

The TrailRider is a unique, single-tire wheelchair designed to allow individuals with mobility constraints to explore and enjoy the outdoors. Assisted by two to four porters, or “Sherpas”, this unit expands the opportunities for participants to access and explore terrain and trails that might otherwise be beyond their limits.

The TrailRider has been tested on various terrains from Mount Everest base camp to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as city parks, provincial wilderness areas and everything in between.

BC Parks and Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI), a long-term, non-profit volunteer partnership group, has developed the TrailRider program in the park to complement their long-term strategy of making Strathcona Park more accessible to all visitors.

Expanding off the successful development of the barrier-free Centennial Trail, started in 2005 and completed as a loop in 2009, and completion of the Strathcona Wilderness Centre at Paradise Meadows trailhead in 2010, BC Parks is committed to providing equal opportunities to all visitors wishing to experience one of the more popular areas of Strathcona Park.

The success to date is due directly to community support, blending funds from BC Parks, Provincial and Federal Grants, all local Rotary groups, Mount Washington Alpine Resort and donations from businesses and individual supporters.

Interested visitors can either take advantage of one of the few pre-scheduled trips around Paradise Meadows (two hours), Battleship Lake (four hours) or Helen Mackenzie Lake loop (six hours), or, reserve the TrailRider for their own group experience at their convenience.

The pre-scheduled trips try to match riders with volunteer porters/Sherpas, so all you need to bring is your enthusiasm, food/snacks, appropriate clothing and any personal care items. Friends and family are welcome and encouraged to come along as well.

SWI is always looking for energetic volunteers to help push/pull the TrailRider, those who enjoy hiking and are eager to share that experience with those who may have never had that opportunity in the past.

While the TrailRider is well-balanced and easy to guide, porters usually trade off to conserve energy and keep it fun for all. When accompanied by adults, porters have been as young as 15, and the upper age limit is only restricted by ability and desire. Groups and businesses should also consider volunteering as a team-building experience, or just a fun social outing.

To book a pre-scheduled trip, or reserve the TrailRider for you own personal group use, contact SWI Volunteer TrailRider Coordinator Kyle Smith at 250-898-7919 or KSmith-Trailrider@outlook.com 
For more information about the Strathcona Park TrailRider program, visit Strathcona Wilderness Institute at strathconapark.org/mobility-devices/trailrider-program.