If you’re looking for accessible trails to experience the great outdoors — and craft beer — the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is a grand bet.
It’s a glorious way to get from one brewery to another; enjoying the luscious scenery around Athens, Ohio, while rolling along in your chair.
We love riding the trail with our buddy, Noah Trembly, a disability advocate who has severe cerebral palsy.
“I roll the entire bikeway in my chair,” Noah says gleefully.
“It’s an incredible experience. I love sampling beers at the breweries. While there’s always room for improvement, I’ve got to give everyone involved a shoutout for making this an incredibly inclusive experience.”
Because it follows a railway, the bike path is a very accessible trail. It has very few hills, making it easy to navigate whether you’re in a human-powered or electric chair.
Here are a few tips to help adults with disabilities get the most from their Athens bike and brew experience:
Accessible Parking Along the Bike Trail
Park at West State Street Park
The park begins where West State Street dead-end. It’s great central location for starting your brew tour. It has accessible parking, but even some regular parking spots have plenty of room for loading and unloading your wheelchair. It also offers flat, easy entry onto the bikeway. And much of it’s shaded, a real boon on those sunny, must-be-on-the-bike-path days.
Locals’ tip: Just be sure to follow the road all the way into the park. You’ll see a parking lot when you first come to the park, but it’s in the hot sun — just keep going until you see the shady spots like this:
and the entrance to the bike path:
Park at one of the breweries
The two newer breweries on the bike path, Devil’s Kettle and Little Fish, have large parking lots, too. As does the Eclipse Company Store in The Plains. Jackie O’s Taproom is on the bike path, but parking there is limited, and we recommend finding another spot if you’re going to be gone for some time.
Park at the eastern trailhead
It has two designated accessible parking spots. The address is 1601 E State St, Athens, OH 45701.
It’s a small lot, though. About 10 spaces total. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but we’ve never seen it full.
And it has a rather scenic view:
Another accessible public restroom is at the soccer field near Mile 1E on the trail.
But best of all, the restrooms at the breweries are accessible! Our favorite is probably Devil’s Kettle because of the chalkboard walls (keep it friendly, folks).
Accessibility in the City of Athens, Ohio
Athens itself also strives to be accessible. Some of the older buildings and bricks around Court Street present challenges, but Ohio University and the city of Athens work to make the community more accessible to everyone.
In fact, Athens may be the only city in the nation with a commission dedicated to making the city more accessible.
“Athens is a dream,” says Noah, who also serves on the Athens City Commission on Disabilities.
“I find it to be very accessible and, just as important, accommodating. We still have work to do, but I’m very impressed with this community’s dedication to making everything from government services to the bikeway accessible to all.”
It’s not perfect, at least not yet. But, in general, you will find people willing to help and accommodate as best they can.
For instance, at Casa Nueva (one of Athens’ most popular restaurants), if you go to the emergency exit door, they will open it for you because the main entrance has a step up. And over at Fluff Bakery, you can gain entrance through the Pita Pit, which cheerfully helps you out.
Basically, people in Athens are nice, friendly, and approachable. Ask and you’ll probably find accommodations.
In the meantime, the city is working on a program to make accommodations more well known. We’ll keep you posted.
Passion Works Studio: Worth a Visit
And don’t forget, the Passion Flower, the official flower of Athens, is created by the amazing artists at Passion Works Studio, 20 E. State Street.
The studio’s mission is “to provide a creative and inclusive atmosphere in which artists with and without disabilities thrive.”
Swing by to support their efforts while you’re in town. If you’re a Bobcat alum, consider getting one of the Bobcat Flowers. Or if OSU is more your speed, check out the Buckeye Flower.