Ian Mackay is the founder of Ian’s Ride, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Washington State that focuses on promoting a more accessible outdoors.
Port Angeles, Washington is home to Mackay where there is a growing community of people with various abilities and ages who love the outdoors. Mackay has always loved being in nature and even studied it in college, so after a bicycle crash left him paralyzed from the neck down, he followed his passion for the outdoors and started exploring trails in his wheelchair. The first was the Olympic Discovery Trail, but many more followed.
Ian was hiking so much in his wheelchair that he began to attract more and more attention. One such hike is the Great American Rail Trail which travels from the state of Washington to Washington D.C. Mackay has completed a number of sections to this trail and is planning more. Particularly, in the Washington State area, one of Mackay’s favorite spots along this trail is the Spruce Railroad Trail along Lake Crescent. Since it’s a paved trail, “the surface is spectacular and the views are even better” according to Ian. “Rail trails are a real opportunity for people in power wheelchairs; the cycling infrastructure is really on par with what I need.” Access to infrastructure, no matter the type, is important and essential to quality of life.
It doesn't have to be ADA to go have fun and explore, but what I would love is to be provided with the information I need.Ian Mackay
Another Washington trail that comes to mind for Ian, in the Port Angeles area, is the 7-mile Larry Scott Trail with crushed rock that “feels paved” and travels through the woods to the scenic town of Port Townsend. On Hurricane Ridge, an access point for Olympic National Park, people in wheelchairs can access 3-miles of paved trails on Hurricane Hill. Some areas of the trail are very steep but possible by wheelchair, and the views of the peaks are unforgettable. Also, the Port Angeles Dream Playground is an all-ability children’s playground with accessible features, like a wheelchair merry-go-round and musical garden. Not far away is the Port Angeles Pump Track at Erickson’s Playfield, and it’s ADA accessible, designed for both manual and electric wheelchairs as well as other adaptive devices. In other words, perhaps the first of its kind in the United States, at the Port Angeles Pump Track, you can do BMX tricks on a real course that’s wheelchair accessible. It’s easy to agree with Ian that “People with mobility challenges need these infrastructures as well.”
To promote a more accessible outdoors and to get wheelchair users active in nature, Ian has created an annual accessible event in the state of Washington called Sea to Sound. This three-day event along the Pacific Coast covers 74 of the 135 miles of the Olympic Discovery Trail. To accommodate everyone, in case you are unable to physically be there, the Sea to Sound event is also offered as a virtual experience.
In June 2022, Ian made a big statement about access to the outdoors by going on an epically long hike. Not only did Ian complete the 24-hour hike, which required a team of supporters and immense psychological strength, but he also set the Genius Book of World Records for the greatest distance covered in twenty-four hours by a mouth-controlled motorized wheelchair. The previous record was 174 miles held by Chang-Hyun Choi, and Ian surpassed this to set a new record of 184.4 miles. A lot of time and energy went into ensuring his wheelchair was equipped for the ride but is a reminder for anyone and everyone that anything is possible.