Fall has arrived, the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy leaf-peeping.
But for those with disabilities, it's not as easy.
That's why outdoor enthusiasts in Albany County are celebrating the Fisher Trail at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Bethlehem.
“This is a classic case of it takes a village,” Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Executive Director Mark King said.
The path is complete, and it’s not your ordinary trial. It's a little less than a mile long, and is accessible to just about anyone.
“I’m a disabled person, and I benefit from accessible options in recreation,” said Katy Carroll, a member of the NYDEC Accessibility Advisory Committee. Carroll is visually impaired and uses a cane, so it's tough to find trails she’s able to safely navigate.
“It can kind of be disappointing if the accessible option is the parking lot,” she said.
That's what will set the Fisher Trail apart from others, as visitors, no matter their abilities, can immerse themselves in wilderness.
“It really means a lot to go out in the woods, see the different environments, the different trees and the young forest versus the older forest,” Carroll said.
The smooth and sturdy pathway winds through a piece of 35-acre land owned by Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. Capping off the walk is a viewing platform that is also accessible to all.
“This really speaks to our commitment at DEC to make sure that our open spaces are accessible for all New Yorkers, and trails like this, make sure everyone can have that opportunity.” state DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Sean Mahar said.
Carroll, who is also part of an advisory committee that works with the state on projects like these, said it exceeded her expectations. She hopes more accessibility is coming.
“It’s just about variety and having that option," she said. "Disabled people don’t want to be forced that one accessible option.”