Tag Archives: hiking

Boy running across boardwalk at Wellfleet Bay

Hikes to Squeeze in Before the School Year Starts

Thinking about back to school already?! Wasn’t summer just getting started? We get it, we feel it, and we have just the thing to help you savor the last few weeks of precious summer vacation.

Go on a hike, see something new, and discreetly get the kids’ brains back into “learning mode”.

For Late Summers on the Cape

Have one last trip to the Cape planned? Check out Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, where you can explore relaxing trails and coastal seascapes. We recommend finding your way to the boardwalk, which winds through the salt marsh to the beach.

In the late summer, you’ll find a wealth of marine life and migrating shorebirds, and fruiting plants that help them refuel for migration. You can learn about the effects of climate change, coastal erosion, and sea level rise. And, at the Nature Center’s learning stations, find out about our wildlife conservation and research programs, including Diamondback Terrapin nest protection, cold-stunned sea turtle rescue, Horseshoe Crab monitoring, and ongoing research on Whimbrel migration.

We call this the “I can see the ocean!” run

For The Berkshires Travelers

Maybe you’re craving more mountains than beach. If so, you’ll love soaking in the summer sunsets from the high elevations at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox.

Check out the Trail of the Ledges/Overbrook Loop track for an 850 vertical foot hike to the top of Lenox Mountain (2,126 foot elevation). Take in the views of Mount Greylock to the north, the Taconic Range to the west, and the Catskill Mountains of New York to the southwest. 

Ahh, just the high-level life perspective you need before back to school shopping. © Brooks Payne

For a Lesson on Food & Farming

Picture this: the school year is in full swing, there’s homework to be done, and dinner to cook. The last thing you want to do is negotiate eating vegetables. However, you can get ahead of the chaos by teaching healthy eating habits before the school year starts at these farms.

Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and Moose Hill in Sharon are Mass Audubon’s working farms and wildlife sanctuaries, dedicated to growing food sustainably, organically, and without chemical pesticides. Squeeze in a fun visit to either so you can show your family where and how their food is grown, and create a positive connection between them and fresh produce.

On the weekends, stop by the farm stands for a tasty souvenir of your adventures. And if you’re visiting Drumlin Farm, don’t forget to traverse the Farmyard Loop to say hi to our resident barnyard animals⁠—cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, and more!

For Those Last-Minute Summer Reading Logs

Thornton W. Burgess, children’s author most known for his classic bedtime stories and that featured the beloved character Peter Rabbit, was inspired by the wildlife and landscape of present-day Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden.

It’s not hard to see why—this sanctuary is teeming with life. Burgess’s former home is viewable from Main Street, now on the historic register and currently occupied by staff. Explore the 4 miles of trails that wind through this magical, historic sanctuary, before settling into bed with a classic Burgess tale.

“Peter sat bolt upright with his eyes very wide open. In them was a funny look of surprise as he stared up at Jenny Wren. “What are you talking about, Jenny Wren?” he demanded. “Don’t you know that none of the Rabbit family swim unless it is to cross the Laughing Brook when there is no other way of getting to the other side…”

-The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess

For a Lesson on Reclaimed Outdoor Spaces

The story of our Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Plymouth is one that inspires current and future management of outdoor spaces. Once a working cranberry farm, this landscape recently underwent the largest freshwater ecological restoration ever completed in the Northeast. Now, Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary is a 481-acre property that’s home to a vast expanse of cold-water streams, ponds, forest, and woodlands—all permanently protected and open for everyone to enjoy!

Explore the four miles of trails that traverse the reclaimed wetlands of Tidmarsh and keep an eye out for signs of the returning healthy ecosystem, including herons, ducks, turtles, and frogs. A great lesson in biodiversity for budding biologists and ecologists!

Walking on a All Persons Trail

Access Nature Through These ADA-Accessible Trails

If you, or someone you care about, has had trouble accessing scenic outdoor areas via traditional trails in the past, our ADA-Accessible All Persons Trails may be your key to unlocking the great outdoors.  

What is an All Persons Trail? 

What began in 2008 with the construction of a pilot “sensory trail” at Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Norfolk, has evolved into Mass Audubon’s Accessible Interpretive Trails Project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The project has yielded the installation of 12 Americans With Disabilities (ADA)-accessible All Persons Trails throughout the state.  

The trails are typically 0.5-1 miles long and meander through some of Mass Audubon’s most scenic wildlife-watching areas in the state. They’re designed to meet ADA compliance for trail width, slope, and surfacing, and are typically made of crushed gravel material, or wooden boardwalk, suitable for wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers.

All Persons Trails Features

Post & Rope Guiding Systems: About half of our All Persons Trails have post and rope guiding systems that provide navigational support for visitors with low vision. Hanging from the guiding ropes along the trails, round beads are placed to indicate an interpretive stop marker is within an arm’s reach. Square beads indicate seating is nearby, with specific directions explained in tour booklets or audio recordings. 

Sensory-Supporting Features: You can take advantage of tactile maps, and interpretive booklets in regular print, large print, Braille, and audio formats. Audio tours, available on cellphone or audio players, provide sensory-rich interpretations of the sights, sounds, and nature found along your route.  

Stops Along the Way: If you need a break along your journey, or want to pause to soak in your surroundings, accessible wildlife observation structures, specialized gardens, seating, play areas, and picnic areas, can be found along your route.  

Service-Animals: Service animals are, as always, welcome to accompany your visit. Due to the nature of our wildlife conservation mission, we ask that those bringing their service animal familiarize themselves with our service animal statement prior to your visit.  

Find Your Trail 

With over 12 All Persons Trails throughout the state, you’re sure to find something close by. Whether it’s strolling through the farmyard loop at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, by the Frog Pond at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester, or over the boardwalk at Arcadia in Easthampton & Northampton, we hope to see you out on a trail soon! 

Search All Persons Trails

Please note some sanctuaries require reservations to visit at this time.