Massachusetts has a number of trails with minimal obstacles. Some are very easy and others are wheelchair accessible. Here are just a few of them.
These links were found through Internet search. I would love to learn about more accessible natural areas from those of you who have been there. With your help, we can share our knowledge with disabled people everywhere and also increase awareness of the need for more accessibility. Please e-mail me with your suggestions using the form in the sidebar.
Cape Cod National Seashore Park
“Forty miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and uplands support diverse species. Lighthouses, cultural landscapes, and wild cranberry bogs offer a glimpse of Cape Cod’s past and continuing ways of life. Swimming beaches and walking and biking trails beckon today’s visitors.” Accessibility
” Park trails at Doane Rock in Eastham and the Marconi Station Site in Wellfleet have been surfaced to accommodate wheelchairs.” The Park has quite a few other adaptations, including beach wheelchairs.
The Salt Pond Visitor Center is near to the 1.5 mile Nauset Marsh Trail and the Buttonbush Trail, a .25 mile multi-sensory trail that featuring a guide rope and text panels printed in large lettering and Braille”. Both trails are described as easy but with some log steps. Call 508- 255 – 3421 for information.
Here is “Everyone Outdoors”‘s article on “Wheelchair Accessible Cape Cod”.
Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge has a wheelchair accessible trail around the lake, according to this Yelp review. As described on AllTrails: “Concord Unit trail is a 2.7 mile loop trail located near Concord, Massachusetts that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail ….. is accessible from March until November.”
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge has the 0.3 mile accessible Pine Trail and at least one beach wheelchair. From a USGS webpage on birding: “Wheelchair accessible birding sites include the Salt Pannes Wildlife Observation Area, the North Pool Overlook, the 0.3 mile (0.5 kilometer) Pines Trail, and the observation platforms overlooking the beach and ocean at parking lots 1 and 7. Here are Yelp Reviews. Refuge Brochure
Read the late Regina Sass’ essay on accessible state parks in Massachusetts from Yahoo Voices.
Accessible Trails in Massachusetts State Parks and Forests This is a great website with short descriptions of the trails and links to the State Parks and Forests they are in.
Massachusetts has “two categories of trails, Accessible and Assessed. Accessible Trails are either paved or made from stonedust and are generally one-quarter to three-quarter miles in length. Assessed Trails are actual dirt hiking trails and offer a more rugged experience. Maps have been designed to provide information on grades, cross slopes, trail surfaces and obstacles. Assessed trails are one-half to 2 miles in length.”
Massachusetts Audobon has an abundance of wildlife sanctuaries with nature trails. Many of these are accessible and accommodate visual and auditory impairments as well as mobility. The following are a small fraction of them. Go to this link and click on the name of the sanctuary you are interested in to learn about their accessible amenities such as trails, visitor centers, tours, etc.
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary has a 1/4 mile “All Persons Trail” – “self guided, fully accessible trail to offer a microcosm of the sanctuary’s habitats to accommodate everyone.”
Felix Neck has a one mile “universally accessible nature trail”.
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary has an 850 foot accessible Sensory Trail.
Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary has a 1,700 foot round trip All Persons Trail with guides available in print and in Braille as well as interpretive stations with auditory and braille information.
The Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary has a one mile sensory trail.
Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary has a wheelchair accessible self-guided rope and post nature trail for the visually impaired.
Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary has an 0.3 mile accessible trail that leads to a wildlife observation blind.
Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center & Wildlife Sanctuary has two accessible trails.
“Everyone Outdoors” is a blog about “accessible adventures and adaptive recreation in Massachusetts State Parks and beyond”. Lots of very helpful articles about equipment and other concerns as well as places to go.
This is not a trail, but number of towns in Massachusetts provide seated sleds for for accessible ice skating. What fun!
General Hiking Guides –
Here are two guides to trails in Rhode Island and adjacent states.Trails & Walks in Rhode Island Auntie Beak’s Place They both have good descriptions and lots of photographs, but are not designed for people with any kind of handicap. If you want to know more about a specific trail, you could research it on these websites.
Hike New England This marvelous, searchable website lists hikes in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island with information about difficulty, length, elevation gain, and features. There are maps and photos for many of the hikes. Using their Hike Finder, I did a search for Easy trails, 5 miles or less and came up with 51 trails! Be aware that Easy for them, might not be easy enough for you. Once you come up with a page for a sanctuary, park, forest, whatever, it would be wise to call for trail conditions.
Nature For The Blind has a directory of Braille trails for almost every state in the US and for many other countries.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails in Massachusetts.