Mountainous Charmlee Wilderness Park is rough terrain for a wheelchair rider, but if you’re interested in canyon flora, it’s well worth the effort. With a manual wheelchair, good balance, and a lot of upper body strength, you’ll be able to reach the Nature Center, a picturesque oak grove, the first leg of the Botany Trail, and a fair bit of the fire trail (see map). Many electric wheelchair riders will also be able to reach the oak grove and perhaps the Nature Center, although you may need a companion to help navigate the slopes and bumps along the way. Most people will find that they can go only a short distance before erosion and cross-slopes make wheelchair travel hazardous. However, even the first few hundred feet of the Botany Trail make a pleasurable trip through sage, wildflowers, coyote bush, and oaks. The park is especially lovely during the spring bloom (late February through March). Occasionally the trail opens to views of the ocean and the canyon below.

The Nature Center is up an asphalt drive from the parking area, and has a seven-inch and a three-inch step up at the entrance. It offers displays on Chumash Indian history, the park’s history as a working ranch, geology, local flora and fauna, and other subjects. Rangers are glad to talk about the area.

Even if you reach Charmlee Park and decide the terrain is too rough, you will have had a lovely drive into the canyon. In fact, we recommend the drive to everyone.


The accessible restroom building and drinking fountain are halfway up the steep road to the Nature Center. The parking lot is hard-packed dirt with a challenging slope at the driveway. There are no blue spaces. Cars are not permitted beyond the parking area, so be ready for a good push up the hill.