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Outdoor Adventures: Accessible Nature Trails and Parks

By Teri Koopman, Outreach Specialist
Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Universal Access Program

Getting out for a walk is super beneficial for your physical and mental health.  But let’s face it. Travelling through your neighborhood or local shopping mall, while close and comfortable, can get repetitive.  

If you are looking to spice-up your routine but are concerned about new paths? If you are seeking a change in scenery but aren’t sure where to turn?  Then DCR’s Universal Access Program (UAP) has some suggestions for transforming your routine walk into an Outdoor Adventure! 

UAP is all about creating accessible recreation opportunities. That’s our mission. We strive to make Mass State Parks, Beaches, Ice Rinks, Golf Courses, and Pools accessible to people of ALL ABILITIES.   How do we do that?  Well, basically three ways:

  • Making site improvements (like ramps and trails)
  • Placing adaptive equipment on-site for people to use on their own (e.g. beach wheelchairs and ice sleds)
  • Funding adaptive recreation programs (such as adaptive hiking, cycling, kayaking, rowing skiing, and skating)

Our UAP Website is loaded with information, and one of our pages is dedicated to, that’s right, Accessible Trails.  Here you will find a list of accessible trails (including rail trails and accessibly-designed hiking trails) in Mass State Parks divided by region-Boston, North, South Central and West.  Rail trails are paved, and our accessible trails are either paved or made from stone dust. Both have a firm, stable surface without large roots or rocks, and are at least 36 inches wide.  Slopes and lengths, however, vary by site.

I consulted with our UAP Team, and they highlighted the following accessible trails in Western Mass for you to further explore. The below are alphabetized and not in rank order.  Each link takes you to a park description page on The page typically includes an overview, maps, address, phone, hours, parking, activities, facilities, and accessibility information.   

Some park pages have more information than others.  For questions and more specific information, we encourage you to reach out to Park staff directly.

If you are seeking adaptive equipment and/or some staff supports, then you may want to check out an Accessible Recreation Program.  These programs are either run by UAP-Funded Partners or by Supported-Partners (who are funded separately but use DCR sites).  From April-October we generally have UAP- funded accessible hiking, cycling, kayaking, and rowing opportunities listed under “Upcoming Events” at the bottom of our UAP Website.   You can also find  UAP’s Adaptive Program Schedule online which includes program descriptions, dates, times, registration information and links to partner websites.

Our Partner Agencies have access to adaptive equipment for you to use when you register for one of their program dates.  For hiking, this equipment can include all-terrain wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches.  And for cycling there are tandems, recumbents, handcycles and trikes.  You must pre-register for a program so they can discuss your needs and bring the correct equipment to the site. 

Most adaptive programs are not geared solely towards older adults, but older adults are welcome to all.  However, one of our Western Mass partners,  All Out Adventures , does have  Programs for Adults 60+ such as hiking,  cycling, and snowshoeing in winter.  Participation is on a sliding scale of $20-$5 per person and the locations rotate between DAR State Forest in Goshen, Sweet Alice Brook in Amherst, and Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke.

Another partner in Western Mass, Holyoke Rows, offers Adaptive Rowing and Kayaking from May -October for $5 per person.  Families are encouraged to join and staff can assist with getting people out on the water.  Older adults are always welcome and last year they did weekly programing with some senior centers (e.g. the Wilbraham Senior Center).  

If you have questions, or would like hiking recommendations for your area, please contact us by phone (413) 461-7126,  or email

An accessible outdoor adventure awaits you!!

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