Sierra Discovery Trail
Tahoe National Forest
We've been wanting to hike the Sierra Discovery Trail for awhile because it's only one hour from our home and it is listed as fully accessible. The trail has a little bit of everything, a boardwalk, bridge, large pine trees, rolling terrain, interpretive signs, and views of several waterfalls. Because every source I could find describes the trail as accessible, I decided to bring Kellisa's everyday therapeutic wheelchair instead of one of her mobility chairs made for trails. One guide book suggested that help may be necessary to get a wheelchair around the entire loop trail.
We found the trail to be as described, but since it was late November, the trail was littered with large pine cones and broken branches. With Kellisa's small front tires, the wheelchair would come to an immediate stop every time they came into contact with these little obstacles. If we were going at a good pace, the back wheels would lift from the sudden stop as the chair lurched forward. While this process jammed my wrists to the point of pain, Kellisa thought the repeated jarring was hilarious and wanted more.
It was a low risk, but I hiked at a slow and careful pace because I didn't want to flip the chair with Kellisa landing on her face. This happened once years ago at recess at school (scary pictures).
I was surprised the trail was so hilly and still considered accessible. There were a few steep sections followed by twisting down hills. I have no idea how accessible this would be for others in wheelchairs propelling themselves or even motorized wheelchairs, but I found it quite challenging pushing Kellisa. It would have been a lot easy in one of her off-road trail chair.
Guidebooks list the trail length between .7 and .8 miles, but it seemed longer (maybe because I was pushing Kellisa?). We enjoyed exploring the forest with large trees, rocks, and several viewpoints to observe the waterfalls, including the 12-foot drop of Bear River Falls. It's quite rewarding to stop at every interpretive sign while Laure reads the information to the family so we can all learn about our surroundings.