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Massachusetts is almost bursting at the seams with places to hike, bike, or spend time in nature.
To help all folks plan ahead for a jaunt into the woods, here are some of the best universally accessible trails in the state.
Most accessible trails are paved or hard-packed, with gentle grades and fairly wide paths—read on for more details.
The below roundup includes trails in metro Boston, Cape Cod, and all the way out to the Berkshires. While some trips call for finding the trail closest to you, others might be perfect for exploring a new region of the state.
For more information, check out the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Universal Access Program, increasing outdoor recreational opportunities for folks with mobility disabilities.
The reservation offers visitors access to Boston’s last remaining salt marsh. Parking is located inside the entrance gate, and the 0.6-mile Belle Isle Marsh Loop Trail consists of stone dust and a boardwalk. Visitors will find benches, wildlife spotting, and views of planes flying into Logan.
The reservation draws crowds in the summer to swim at Pearce Lake. It has a paved, wide two-mile loop trail. The trail has benches and picnic tables along the way for resting, and the parking lot has four designated accessible spaces. Note that the trail has a couple of moderately steep uphill and downhill grades. Parking is free.
This seven-mile scenic pathway runs the length of the Cape Cod Canal between Bourne and Sagamore. Paved paths run on either side of the canal, and offer views of the water, bridges, and various barges and ships that chug down the canal. Despite the waterway’s bustle, wildlife like birds, herring, and dolphins can sometimes be spotted.
Located on what was once the sprawling estate of Harry W. Pierce, the property includes Pierce Park and the Doyle Center, where many of the Trustees’ administrative offices are housed. The park includes a one-and-a-half-mile accessible loop starting at the Abbott Avenue Lot, and consists of a boardwalk through a low marshy area and wildflower sanctuary.
In addition to the park’s accessible one-mile stone dust Woodland Trail that loops through the forest, the park is one of the only in Massachusetts with accessible fishing. Dunn also has accessible restrooms, a picnic area, and a pavilion.
The trail at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge offers a one-mile accessible path. The trail offers views of almost every kind of habitat in western Massachusetts, from mountains to grasslands to vernal pools. The trailhead has a pavilion with a nearby accessible portable toilet.
The state forest in North Andover offers over 30 miles of trails, 11 ponds, and dozens of campsites. In addition to the accessible one-mile stone dust trail at Berry Pond, Harold Parker also has accessible restrooms, camping, picnicking, and available beach chairs.
The public park was left to the city of Boston by Mary Cummings in 1930 to be “forever open as a public pleasure ground.” The park is home to various natural habitats like woods, wetlands, vernal pools, fields, and thickets. The 0.8-mile Pollinator Loop is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible picnic table located along the trail.
Battle Road Trail consists of 4.5 miles of partially paved trail, passing by many historical buildings. The trail’s surface shifts between paved, gravel, and hard packed, and all-terrain tires or motorized equipment may be preferable to some folks using wheelchairs. The restrooms and visitor center are also wheelchair accessible.
The Hellcat Interpretive Trail completely immerses visitors in nature, with a recently redone and entirely wheelchair-accessible boardwalk through the marsh. Visitors will get to see freshwater marsh, vernal pools, dunes, maritime woodlands, and some of the best birding in the region. Parking is $5.
The sprawling forest encompasses many miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, swimming, boating, and ATVs. The paved “Tranquility Trail” winds three-quarters of a mile through the woods and over a brook. The trail begins at the rustic ski lodge on Berry Pond Circuit Road, where parking is also paved.
Located along the slopes of Lenox Mountain in the heart of the Berkshires, the sanctuary has hundreds of acres of easy trails for leaf peeping and wildlife viewing. At their nature center, you can pick up a trail map in printed or Braille format, along with hands-free binoculars and audio players for guided tours. The round trip to Pike’s Pond is about a third of a mile over smooth, packed surface, with a boardwalk overlooking the pond.
Home to the cabin where Henry David Thoreau famously spent two years in the 1840s, the reservation now consists of 462 acres of protected open space, including Walden Pond, where Boston-area residents enjoy swimming and boating. The park’s accessible trail starts at the visitor center and continues half a mile through the woods to the site of Thoreau’s replica cabin.
This Sturbridge public recreation area includes wooded trails, cliffs, and the remains of a historic nearby sawmill. The accessible Mill Pond Trail is a one-mile stone dust path through woods and wetlands, with views of the mill’s historic stonework. Note that there is a paved vehicle road running by the trailhead, but no parking. The park’s camping facilities also offer four yurts with access ramps.
The 3,526-acre forest draws visitors of all kinds for its camping, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and even snowmobiling. They offer two accessible campsites at the campground, with level, packed surfaces, and wheelchair-accessible picnic tables. The park also offers accessible restrooms and the wheelchair-accessible Wompatuck trail, a mile and a quarter long.
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