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DNR reaches track chair fundraising goal to expand access at more state park beaches and trails

Michigan now offers more track chairs for public use than any other state parks and recreation system

The effort to make outdoor recreation in Michigan more accessible for everyone continues to gain steam, with the Department of Natural Resources reaching its funding goal of more than $400,000 to purchase track chairs for a growing number of state parks and trails.

More than 300 donors have raised $444,931 over the past five years to purchase track chairs, which are off-road, electronic chairs that can easily handle trails, snow, sand and even up to 8 inches of water, allowing users to explore areas of the parks that traditional wheelchairs might not reach. Some 15 locations around the state now have track chairs available for use at no cost, with 10 additional locations soon to receive chairs, thanks to the multiyear fundraising campaign.

The cost of one track chair is about $16,000.

The donor difference

Support has come from DNR partner organizations including Kali’s Cure for Paralysis Foundation, Safari Club International, Family Hope Foundation, and Friends of Ludington and Grand Haven state parks and Island Lake Recreation Area. Campers and boaters from across the state who chose to contribute an additional $2 when making their park and harbor reservations also helped the DNR reach its track chair fundraising goal.

“It’s so inspiring to see the program grow and to witness more people taking this simple yet powerful action that makes their favorite places more accessible to everyone,” said Michelle O’Kelly, DNR Parks and Recreation Division resource and fund developer.

“It was Kali’s Cure for Paralysis that brought this piece of equipment to our attention, and not only has it grown to be the largest program in any state – we have more track chairs than any other state – it’s attracted national attention," O'Kelly said. "We have states reaching out to us all the time to start this in their state. Kali’s Cure started this movement in our parks and started this movement across the country.”

Expanding access

From Maybury State Park and Bald Mountain and Island Lake recreation areas in southeast Michigan, and west Michigan’s Warren Dunes, Ludington and Muskegon state parks, to the Upper Peninsula's Tahquamenon Falls State Park and others around the state, track chairs give people with injuries or disabilities greater access to park beaches, picnic sites and trails.

Chairs are rented out on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost to the individuals needing assistance. Pets and service animals may accompany track chair users but owners must follow park rules.

O’Kelly calls the track chair program’s growth “life changing” for countless people seeking enhanced access when exploring the outdoors. Park supervisors, who witness up close the positive impacts of these chairs, agreed.

“With the track chair at Maybury State Park, the Friends of Maybury volunteers are engaged as hike leaders and the chair users, along with their families, can enjoy the meadows, forests and rolling hills areas of the park,” said Traci Sincock, park supervisor at Maybury State Park and Belleville Lake Boating Access Site in Northville. “Having a track chair at Maybury has provided residents with access to this gem of southeast Michigan.”

Along the Lake Michigan shoreline, visitors can use a track chair at Holland State Park to access the beach.

“We hear heartwarming stories from people who thought they would never be able to enjoy a day at the beach, and who tell us how thrilled they are to be here,” said Sean Mulligan, park supervisor. “It really does mean a lot for us to make these experiences possible for even more folks. We try to provide a great place for people to come and create those lifelong memories, and having the ability to expand those opportunities is phenomenal.” 

The hope is to continue to add to the state’s fleet of track chairs over time. Anyone wishing to contribute to this anticipated program expansion – or other efforts to enhance state parks – can make a donation by visiting the DNR state parks giving page.

“This effort is just one component of the DNR’s departmentwide strategy to make outdoor recreation – beaches, campgrounds, fishing, hunting, trails and more – accessible to even more people,” O’Kelly said. 

“I’m really proud of Michigan for being on the forefront of recreation for all.” 

Learn more about track chair availability at

An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows. Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

  • Track chair: Visitors enjoy the trail at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling. Some 15 locations around the state now have track chairs available for use at no cost, with 10 additional locations soon to receive chairs, thanks to a multi-year fundraising campaign.