First wheelchair-accessible hiking trail opens in San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- An 1,100-foot loop trail accessible by wheelchairs opened Wednesday in the Black Mountain Ranch Open Space Park.

The “Jas Arnold Trail for All People'' is a flat course that can be used by children, seniors and people with mobility challenges.

“San Diego's natural beauty is one of the reasons we're proud to call this home,'' Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “This trail gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. It opens up a part of San Diego to seniors, families with small children and those who use mobility devices that wasn't accessible before.''

The trail -- the first of its kind in San Diego -- is named after a Rancho Penasquitos resident who lost his battle with multiple sclerosis earlier this year. Arnold was a vocal advocate of the trail who was involved with the Black Mountain Open Space Park Citizens Advisory Committee and spent eight years working on the project.

“Jas Arnold never wanted to let his illness get in the way of his passion for enjoying the beautiful scenery our city has to offer,'' said Councilman Mark Kersey, who represents the area. “This trail honors his vision and inspires us to never let our challenges keep us from something we truly love.''

The trail features four shade structures, benches, a trail head sign and educational displays about local plant life. Improvements to make the trail accessible for people with visual impairments, such as Braille interpretive signs, are planned for the coming months.

“My dad was such an inclusive person and this trail is such a perfect example of that, a place that can be enjoyed by people of all abilities,'' said Meagan Olson, Arnold's daughter. “He would also be so grateful for the support of everyone that helped along the way. It was his vision but he knew that it took a lot of caring people to make it happen.''

The trail was built over the past year by Blue Pacific Engineering and Construction.