October 2006 2300 | 7700 0623-2340-MTDC
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Accessible Gates for Trails and Roads

James "Scott" Groenier, Project Leader

The Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) has reviewed available gate designs from around the world that allow wheelchair access, but restrict all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, and mountain bikes. We also searched for an existing gate or gate design that would allow access by wheelchairs and horses, but keep out ATVs and motorcycles.

Graphic image of an accessible timber kissing gate.
Figure 1. Accessible Timber Kissing Gate
for Wheelchair Accessibility

click image for technical drawing

When the Forest Service installs a gate, berm, or other type of device to restrict motor vehicles on a road or trail, but encourages foot travel beyond the restriction, a passage 36 inches wide must be provided for someone using a wheelchair (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

Wheelchair Accessible Gates

Web sites with designs that allow wheelchair access while restricting access by ATVs and motorcycles are listed near the end of this tech tip. The best Web site was that of Scottish Natural Heritage, an organization in the United Kingdom (UK). They have a series of drawings for gate designs that meet accessibility requirements in the UK.

The Scottish Natural Heritage gates are smaller than those required for accessibility in the United States. We increased the opening dimensions to meet Federal requirements in the United States. The timber kissing gate (figure 1) and the chicane (figure 2) have been modified to meet the Federal requirements. In addition, a modified kissing gate design was developed to be used for existing fence openings (figure 3).

Graphic image of a chicane gate design.
Figure 2. Chicane
for Wheelchair Accessibility

click image for technical drawing

Graphic image of a modified timber kissing gate.
Figure 3. Timber Kissing Gate—Modification for Existing
Fence Opening for Wheelchair Accessibility

click image for technical drawing

Horse Accessible Gates

Another concern was finding a way to allow horse and pedestrian access, while restricting ATVs and motorcycles. Two types of structures that will allow horse access, but restrict ATVs, are the "V" gates used at the Ashley National Forest (figures 4 and 5) and at the Lolo National Forest (figure 6).

Photo of a horse walking through a V-gate. A horse trailer hitched to a pickup truck is visible in the background.
Figure 4. A horse walking through a "V" gate in Utah.
This gate is not accessible because it is narrower
than the minimum width required for passage of a
wheelchair (36 inches) and the bar across
the opening is higher than 1 inch.

Graphic image of a V-shaped horse gate.
Figure 5. "V" Horse Gate
with Wheelchair Accessibility

click image for technical drawing

The bottom log should be removed from the gate shown in figure 6 because the log could be a tripping hazard and it prevents wheelchair access. A horse stile restricts ATVs and motorcycles and discourages mountain bikes, while allowing passage by horses (figure 7).

Photo showing a V-shaped gate in a grassy area in front of a dirt trail. A thickly forested area is visible in the background.
Figure 6—A gate in the Lolo National Forest that allows
horses to pass, but restricts ATVs. This gate is not
accessible because it is narrower than the minimum width
required for passage of a wheelchair (36 inches) and
the bar across the opening is higher than 1 inch.

Photo showing a horse stile across a dirt trail in a forested area.
Figure 7—A horse stile. This gate is not accessible because
the bars across the opening are higher than 1 inch.

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The Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has developed this information for the guidance of its employees, its contractors, and its cooperating Federal and State agencies, and is not responsible for the interpretation or use of this information by anyone except its own employees. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this document is for the information and convenience of the reader, and does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



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