Trail by Trail, a More Accessible Maine

Enock Glidden grew up in Patten, Maine, in a log cabin built by family and friends, surrounded by horses and many acres of woods. He spent countless hours among the trees, pushing his wheelchair as far as it could go, then getting out of it and crawling, dragging his wheelchair behind him. “I’ve always loved adventure, is what it boils down to,” says Enock.

This love of adventure has brought him all over the country, including to the top of El Capitan, a towering granite rock formation in Yosemite National Park he climbed in 2016. He also enjoys less extreme outdoor adventures through his work as Maine Trail Finder’s Accessibility Ambassador. Enock, who was born with spina bifida and has been using a wheelchair since age four, has spent the past year visiting and assessing the accessibility of trails around the state, many owned and maintained by land trusts.

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Enock says, “As long as we’re given some help and resources, the world can open up for people with disabilities.”

“There are so many free places to go where people can just enjoy nature—I didn’t realize there were that many until I started doing this,” says Enock. “All the land trusts are doing an amazing service.” Earlier in 2022, Maine Coast Heritage Trust was thrilled to have him as keynote speaker for the Maine Land Conservation Conference, an annual gathering bringing the state’s land conservation community together to learn and connect, virtually and in-person. At the conference Enock’s message to land trusts boiled down to this: small changes over time can make a big difference when it comes to accessibility.

Earlier this fall, he presented at an accessibility workshop coordinated by MCHT and partners through the Maine Land Trust Network.

“It’s not a cheap undertaking to build an accessible trail—it’s expensive—but I know of at least four accessible trails being built right now. It’s amazing to see. The world is opening up to people,” says Enock. “But it’s not always possible [to build an accessible trail]. Pick away at it. Small things like removing obstacles—fallen trees, branches, rocks, filling in holes, covering root—those little things make a big difference.”

Enock also emphasizes communication as an important component of accessibility. “It really does start with information,” he says. “When you provide a lot of information about the trail, then everyone can decide for themselves what they are and are not capable of. It really is individual. It’s not one size fits all.”

Enock is excited for a future where more people in Maine have access to nature, and places to “relax and unwind.” He says, “Many of the land trusts I’m working with want to make as many of their lands available to as many people as possible—that’s really the movement I’m seeing. As long as we’re given some help and resources, the world can open up for people with disabilities. That’s what I’m hoping to achieve.”

Learn more about Enock and his adventures at