The centerpiece of the Grover Hot Springs State Park in the Sierra Mountains of California is the mineral hot springs, enjoyed because the mineral sulfur is minimal. Two concrete pools, one hot and one cold, are both equipped with lifts for disabled access. At an altitude of 6000-feet, even in summer, the warm water may be welcome; in winter cross country skiers use the pools. The site is surrounded by tall peaks and rocky crags; below the pools is a wide meadow among giant Jeffrey pines.

A half-mile away, across a lovely meadow is a 76-site campground, from which several trails depart. Most are inaccessible due to soft sand, narrowness, rocks, and roots, but Burnside Lake Trail is quite pleasant for about 0.3 miles, and adventurous wheelchair users may be able to venture out into the meadow in the dryness of late summer.

Burnside Lake Trail

see access criteria for definitions

  • Trailhead: At the northwest corner of the campground
  • Length: Less than .5 mile
  • Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
  • Typical Grade: Gentle
    After 0.3 miles, dips into creekbeds become impassible
  • Terrain: Moderately Firm
    The surface is sandy but not deep, so it might be tiring but didn’t seem treacherous. After 0.3 miles, steep terrain, rocks, roots, and soft sand became problematic.


This is a packed dirt access road, yet narrow and trail-like in feel, skirting the edge of the wide meadow and passing among tall trees and chaparral, with views of the crags and peaks that surround the valley. The surface is sandy, but firm enough for a strong pusher or motorized wheelchair. Near the end, it comes close to Hot Springs Creek, a pretty rushing stream that is stocked with trout (presently not accessible for fishing from a wheelchair). From this point onward the trail rapidly becomes more difficult, dipping into gullies with soft sand slopes and protruding rocks and roots. We turned back at about the half-mile mark.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

  • Accessible Parking: Yes
  • Accessible Restroom: Yes
    Vault toilets are in the day-use area outside the campground. The men’s and women’s restrooms adjacent to the designated wheelchair accessible campsites are reserved for people with disabilities only, and to use them you must obtain a key when you register. Each spacious room has a roll-in shower with a built-in bench and low and high shower heads.
  • Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes
    The day-use area outside the campground entrance is available for off-season camping when the main campground is closed from October to May.

Other Things of Interest

Although the hot springs and pool are accessible via a lift, assistance may be needed on the steep ramp on the approach. Dressing rooms and toilets may be usable for some wheelchair riders. Showers lack folding seats and lower heads but have adequate maneuvering space.

Additional Information

  • Map: See here.
  • Hours: Open hours for the pools vary depending on the season. Campground is closed from early October to May.
  • Fees: Camping
  • Dogs: On a leash
Avatar photo Bonnie Lewkowicz (59 Posts)

I has worked for more than 30 years advocating for, and educating about access to outdoor recreation and tourism for people with disabilities. I hold a degree in Recreation Therapy and was a travel agent specializing in accessible travel for many years. In this capacity, and now as Associate Director at Wheelchair Traveling, I consult with the travel industry about accessibility, conducts disability awareness trainings and writes about travel and outdoor recreation. I also authored a book titled, A Wheelchair Rider's Guide: San Francisco Bay and the Nearby Coast, about accessible trails and has produced several access guides to San Francisco. My most current project is a website of accessible trails along the entire California Coast ( My extensive experience as a wheelchair rider combined with her professional experience has provided me with in-depth knowledge about inclusive tourism and outdoor recreation.

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