The following is the sixth in a series of guides to accessibility of nearby National Park Service areas for handicapped visitors.
The information is from a new National Park Service handbook called "Access National Parks, A Guide for Handicapped Visitors," which tells where obstacles to full accessibility have been eliminated and where they still exist in almost 300 areas of the National Park System.
ANTIETAM NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD SITE - This "living history" area, where Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North ended in 1862, is one mile north of Sharpsburg on Maryland Rte. 65. Rough surfaced ramps cross the parking lot curb and provide access to the carpeted observation deck at the rear of the visitor center. Construction of fully accessible and equipped restrooms was recently completed. Eight steps lead to the exhibit and display room.
The visitor center featurers a taped tour for the eight-mile, self-guiding car trip around the park. Live interpretive programs are given at Dunker Church (accessible by ramp), Piper Farm and the National Cemetery. An audio-visual orientation slide program is given in the accessible observation room (301)432-5124.
ASSATEAGUE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE - This 37-mile barrier island in Maryland and Virginia is made up of sandy beaches, dunes, pine woodlands and marshes. It is noted for its recreational opportunities, migratory waterfowl and wild ponies. (301)641-1441.
In the Maryland Section is the totally accessible national seashore visitor center, a one-story structure with restrooms, on the mainland. All boardwalks from parking areas to the beach can be crossed by wheelchair, and assistance is available.
Assateague State Park, at the north end of the area, has a ramp to both the concession building and bathhouse in the dry-use area. Handicapped vistors may need help climbing the six-inch step to this ramp. There is no admission fee at the state park day-use area for visitors who can provide certification of permanent disability.
All sites in the state park camp-ground feature asphalt parking pads with paved access to modrn wash facilities. For reservations, contact Superintendent, Assateague State Park, R-D 2, Box 293, Berlin, Md. 21811.
The national seashore campgrounds are more primitive and have outside portable toilets. The day-use area, however, has indoor facilities. Bayside crabbing is done at the old North Beach Ferry Landing.
The Virginia Section is on Rte. 13, about 13 miles east of Virginia Hwy-175.(804)336-6577. Four steps make entry into the national seashore information station difficult, but the day-use bathhouse and indoor restroom facilities are readily accessible Visitors may need assistance to cross one of the clay beach access points from the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] south of the day-use area, walks up the ramp to Toms Cove Historical Overlook Family campgrounds and restaurants are provided outside the seashore in Chincoteague, Va.
The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge visitor center is accessible, but there are only portable toilets. The paved one-mile Pony Trail can accommodate wheelchairs. The three-mile Wildlife Drive, also paved, is closed to contact the refuge headquarters for alternate directions to the lighthouse. The refuge manager's address is P.O. Box 62, Chincoteague, Va. 23336. (804)336-6122.
CATOCTIN MOUNTAIN PARK - This "living history" area in Taurmont, Md. takes in part of the forested ridge that forms he eastern rampart of the Appalachia Mountains-in Maryland. The parks visitor center, two miles west of Thurmont, is fully accessible by camps over one curb from the parking lot and one step at the entry. The audiovisual programs, exhibits and interpretive and other program are on the main floor, and the restrooms are accessible with stall door width of 32 inces.
An interpretive guidebook is available for self-guided auto tours over Manahan Road which runs seven miles through the park. Some trout fishing areas are accessible to people in wheelchairs. Information on these and accessible trails is at the visitor center. Trail climbs to Chimney and Wolf Rock overlooks, varying from 890 to 1,400 feet, are very strenuous and over rugged terrain.
All visitors have access to Camp Round Meadow, with its exhibits and craft shops. Restrooms are accessible. Two camps, Misty Mountain and Greentop, are open in summer only for group camping. Misty Mountain is the oldest and has sleeping lodges, recreation buildings, dining halls, kitchens and swimming pooks. Most of these facilities are accessible. Groups of handicapped people use the camp regularly in the summer. Arrangements must be made in advance through the Baltimore League for Crippled Children and Adults, 1111 East Cold Spring La, Baltimore Md. 21212.
All facilities at Camp Greentop are fully accessible. A paved natured trail with adjacent parking is near Greentop and the Chestnut picnic area. Special activities are scheduled during the summer for organized groups of handicapped visitors to Camp Greentop. (301)824-2574 or 271-7447.