Places We Love: An Inside View

Learn More About Our Trails 

Discover a new trail at a wildlife sanctuary near you. Or start by perusing our list of Great Trails to Visit.

With thousands of miles of trails to explore on our wildlife sanctuaries, there are so many amazing locations to visit. No group knows this better than Mass Audubon’s sanctuary directors. We asked each of them to describe a spot on our properties that is near and dear to their heart. Here are their often inspirational and surprising answers.

Greater Boston

Blue Hills Trailside Museum, Milton

“The top of Chickatawbut Hill. It is special to me for numerous reasons—the laughter of children at day camp, the excitement of raptor banding in the fall, and the quiet solitude of the woods in winter.” – Norman Smith

Boston Nature Center, Mattapan

“The main entrance with its great allée, or tree-lined walkway, of pin oak trees. You may find a roosting turkey or a red-tailed hawk perched high in the limbs. Just about every Monday through Friday, you’ll hear the laughter of BNC’s preschool children playing and exploring their surroundings.” – Julie Brandlen

Broadmoor, Natick

“Little Farm Pond. The loop trail takes you to a bench on a rise overlooking the pond, a great spot to view great blue herons, wood ducks, and sometimes a Virginia rail. This is a very private spot for the lover of quiet nature.” – Elissa Landre

Drumlin Farm, Lincoln

“The accessible Ice Pond Trail just off the main parking lot. The built world recedes and the sounds, sights, and smells of the forest take over, inviting you to pause, listen, and explore this secret place. This accessible trail also features a rope guide, audio tour, braille signs, and more.” – Christy Foote-Smith

Habitat Education Center, Belmont

Bird garden at the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon

“Turtle Pond. On a hot summer afternoon, I like to rest on the bench at the pond, quietly watching the bird activity all around. It’s a tranquil, cool, and calming landscape.” – Roger Wrubel

Museum of American Bird Art, Canton

“The bird garden. Bursting with color and abuzz with pollinators, it’s the perfect place for photography, nature journaling, and contemplation. Its history is also compelling: created in 1919 for the Morse family, it was a favorite of artist Mildred Morse Allen, who spent many contented hours painting there.” – Amy Montague


North of Boston

South esker trail at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary © Christine Mallette
South esker trail at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary © Christine Mallette

Ipswich River, Topsfield

“The top of the South Esker Trail. Visitors can sit on a bench and enjoy a panoramic view of the marsh, with Pine Island and the meandering Ipswich River in the distance. The marsh wren’s melodic sounds are heard from the cattails in which it nests.” – Carol Decker

Rough Meadows, Rowley

“The view of the Great Marsh from the observation deck. The contrast between the forest’s dappled light and the brilliant sunlight at the edge of the ever-changing marsh is breathtaking. Before or after your visit, stop by Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport to learn about salt marshes.” – Bill Gette


Cape Cod and the Islands

Barnstable Harbor Long Pasture © Ronald Wilson
Barnstable Harbor, Long Pasture © Ronald Wilson

Felix Neck, Edgartown

“The Old Stone Amphitheater. It speaks of mystery and magic and of history unknown. Granite rocks shaped by humans are enclosed by a buffer of trees and vines, creating a secret hideaway to listen to the wind and the birds.” – Suzan Bellincampi

Long Pasture, Barnstable

“The view of Barnstable Harbor and Sandy Neck Barrier Beach. The wildlife sanctuary extends more than 100 feet onto the harbor’s sandy tidal flats. When the tide is up, you can explore some of the most pristine and scenic maritime habitats in the state by boat, board, or kayak.” – Ian Ives

Wellfleet Bay, South Wellfleet

“The barrier beaches and salt marshes. Try Goose Pond Trail, which leads you to the salt marshes. I really appreciate the flora and fauna that live along the edge. It’s a very challenging, dynamic environment with the tide coming in, the salt, and the fresh water.” – Bob Prescott


South of Boston

Fox Hill at Daniel Webster © Josh Kuchinsky Photography
Fox Hill at Daniel Webster © Josh Kuchinsky Photography

Allens Pond, Dartmouth

“Tree Top View on our Quansett Trail. It’s a restful perch on cool stone high above a thicket of clethra, under a canopy of graceful oak where you can be still, listening to life thronging all around—frogs, birds, crickets. It’s remote without isolation.” – Gina Purtell

Daniel Webster, Marshfield

“The view from the top of Fox Hill. The open vista across the marsh is a bit unusual for Massachusetts, and there is always something to see: osprey on the nest, deer trotting by, harrier hovering. Similarly, I love the openness of Marshfield’s North River Wildlife Sanctuary.” – Sue MacCallum

Moose Hill, Sharon

“The red pine plantation along the Hobbs Hill Trail. You walk along in what appears to be typical woods and all of a sudden you enter something strikingly different. The trees are all red pines, and are perfectly aligned. The ground feels like a soft cushion underfoot. It’s a reminder that every hike might hold a surprise.” – Karen Louise Stein

Tree Swallow © Richard Johnson
Tree Swallow © Richard Johnson

Oak Knoll, Attleboro

“Lake Talaquega. At one time this pre-WWI, human-made lake had a bandstand in the middle. Now it is home to a great blue heron, painted turtles, wood ducks, and more. Standing at the head of the trail you are surrounded by native trees such as red maples, beaches, and musclewood.” – Lauren Gordon

Stony Brook, Norfolk

“The viewing platform overlooking Teal Marsh. It’s a magical place to visit as the sun is rising over the white pines, casting a beautiful hue over the water, shoreline, and surrounding forest. Red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, and tree swallows add movement and voice as they set about their morning rituals.” – Doug Williams


Connecticut River Valley

Arcadia, Easthampton & Northampton

“The Mill River at Arcadia. Large silver maples arch overhead, cardinal flowers adorn the banks, and rare freshwater mussels are just out of sight below the water.” – Jonah Keane


Central Massachusetts

Broad Meadow Brook, Worcester

“Sprague Trail Brook Crossing. The huge rocks are wonderful to walk over, the brook widens out a bit and pools, and there is a nice bench to sit on and enjoy the views. It was one of the first places where we brought people when the wildlife sanctuary was just getting established.” – Deb Cary

Wachusett Meadow, Princeton

“The hike up Brown Hill. It’s an easy hike with big rewards: at the top you can get 360-degree views of the sanctuary, and the rolling hills and ponds of the region.” – Deb Cary


Berkshires

Pleasant Valley, Lenox

“Pike’s Pond along the Accessible Trail. In the early morning the mist floats off the water and you can see gentle ripples—the telltale signs of aquatic life. Kids are leaning over the edge to spot fish or frogs. On a quiet night, all you can hear are the sounds of nature.” – Becky Cushing