Person in an ATV wheelchair on a dirt path in a state park

State Park track chairs open miles of opportunity for people with mobility impairments

Top Photo: MNDNR Parks and Trails Division


Imagine hiking at a Minnesota state park, your trail mix packed for a long trek—raisins aside, because who wants those? Going along, you watch a butterfly pass by when, out of the corner of your eye, you spot someone trekking towards you from the wooded trail. As they get closer, you see something you’ve never seen before. This person is sitting atop a chair equipped with caterpillar wheels resembling a mini tank. You’re mesmerized. What is this amazing device, and how did this person acquire one?

Seeing your inquisitive expression, the woman says, “This is an all-terrain track chair that the park rents. It allows me to explore trails my wheelchair can’t access. I’ve gone three miles with my son today.”

You’re stunned. How is it that you’ve never heard of a track chair before?

The track chair is a newer development that has been popping up at some Minnesota State Parks over the past few years. It debuted for visitors in 2022 at five park locations: Camden, Crow Wing, Lake Bemidji, Maplewood, and Myre-Island. It quickly gained popularity, prompting even more parks to offer the amenity, including Blue Mounds, Frontenac, Fort Snelling, Father Hennepin, Itasca, Lake Carlos, McCarthy Beach, and Split Rock Lighthouse. According to the DNR press release, these parks were chosen based on criteria that included trail suitability, the availability of storage space and charging outlets near a trailhead, as well as a desire to offer the amenity at parks across the state.

Whether someone uses a wheelchair to get around or has general mobility concerns, the chairs are available free of charge in the parks. They allow individuals to journey through mud, sand, and snow, allowing park-goers to have a more immersive experience and improving their health and well-being. Each park offering track chairs has mapped out which trails are open to their use, and at most parks, it is the majority of trails.

A woman in a motorized wheelchair designed with tank-like tracks is smiling, wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, a green top, and black pants. Standing beside her is a man in a wide-brimmed hat, khaki shirt, and dark pants. They are outdoors on a sunny day near a fenced path with greenery in the background.

Nanciann and John Kruse on their first hike with the DNR’s Track Chair at Fort Snelling State Park. Photo: Lisa Filter / P&TC

Nanciann and John Kruse were out at Fort Snelling in late May for Nanciann’s first use of the track chair. “This is great! We’ve been out for a couple hours enjoying the trails,” they said. On this day, they stuck to the newly re-paved trail that connect the state park with Minnehaha Park. Nanciann explained that she was acclimating to the joystick operation and didn’t take it as fast as it can go, but she was getting more comfortable. Next time they plan venture on to the dirt trails of Pike Island. “It’ll be really nice to have the chair there because that’s where it get especially challenging to push her wheelchair,” said John.

Visitors are encouraged to reserve a track chair by calling the park office. The DNR Track Chairs page provides a list of telephone numbers and additional information.

Entrance to Minnesota State Parks requires a vehicle permit. A discounted rate is available for anyone with a disability hang tag.

MNDNR Track Chairs
Reporting by
Christina Smith, P&TC Communication Intern
Lisa Filter, P&TC External Relations Director