ABCs of Accessible Trails: Maine, Maryland, & Massachuetts

Editor's Note: This is the seventh post in our ABCs of Accessible Trails series, which details the best accessible trails in State and National Parks across the country. Take a look at our previous posts for more: Alabama, Alaska, ArizonaArkansas, Colorado, CaliforniaConnecticut, Delaware, FloridaGeorgia, Hawaii, IdahoIllinois, Indiana, Iowa,  Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana

The America the Beautiful Pass, otherwise known as the The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, is a free lifetime pass available to US citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability.  Passes can be obtained via phone, online, or in person at any of these recreation sites.


Acadia National Park - Jessup Path

Acadia National Park was established to protect the area’s spectacular scenic values, Maine’s rock bound coast, its coastal and its offshore islands as characterized by the geologic features, natural history and the native plant and animal life.

The Jessup Path is a 2.2 mile, flat, moderately trafficked trail, the start of which which can be found on a footbridge to the left of the Wild Gardens of Acadia.  Known for its abundance of beautiful wildflowers, the Jessup Trail navigates through a white birch forest and includes several footbridges. Much of the trail makes use of a boardwalk, and it is well shaded and good for all ages and ability levels.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge - Timber Point Trail 

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.

Timber Point Trail is a scenic 1.4 mile loop located on the Timber Point Peninsula that borders the Little River Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean.  Visitors will enjoy views of salt marshes, cattail marshes, mixed deciduous forest, mudflats, shrublands, and rocky shores.  Timber Island, bordering the Peninsula, is available to visit only at low tide.  Pro tip: A Tide Clock is installed at the trailhead so that visitors can successfully time their visit to access the island.

Ferry Beach State Park - Ferry Beach State Park Trail Network

Ferry Beach State Park is located off Maine Route 9 on Bay View Road between Old Orchard Beach and Camp Ellis in Saco. A stand of tupelo (black gum) trees, rare at this latitude, can be seen in this 100-acre area, which offers a sweeping view of miles of white sand beaches between the Saco River and Pine Point. Long before highways were common north of Boston, beaches provided travelers relatively safe and easy transportation routes. A ferry crossing at nearby Saco River served beach travelers, and thus Ferry Beach State Park received its name.

The trail network at Ferry Beach State Park consists of 1.7 miles of barrier free trails that pass through a variety of ecosystems including swampland, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, and white sand beaches.  Visitors who brave the swamp's raised boardwalk will be rewarded with Tupelo Trees (also known as the Black Gum Tree) which are rarely seen in Maine, especially at that latitude, as well as wild highbush blueberry plants.  Guided nature programs are offered when the park is staffed and are free with park admission.


Assateague Island National Seashore - Life of the Marsh Trail 

More than 300 wild ponies wander the beaches, inland pine forest, and salt marshes. Assateague became a National Park in 1965 and together with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuge and State Park, the land and water boundaries of Assateague Island total over 48,000 acres in Maryland & Virginia.

The Life of the Marsh Trail at Assateague Island is a .5 mile loop trail that was recently rebuilt after being destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The new version of the trail offers a sturdy boardwalk that extends over the marshland, offering visitors a perfect view of the area and its supported wildlife, including a wide variety of bird species as well as the famed wild ponies that roam the island. Pro tip: All visitors should give themselves plenty of extra time to stop at the trail's plentiful overlooks, while Freedom Chair riders in particular should take advantage of one of the few remaining sections of trail untouched by Hurricane Sandy that leads right to the beach.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge - Bayview-Butterfly Trail

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,285 acre island providing habitat for thousands of wintering waterfowl including the tundra swan. Swans feed off of grasses in the river and narrows as do the 1,000s of waterfowl. Eastern Neck refuge supports a wide variety of habitats including brackish marsh, natural ponds, upland forest, and grasslands.

The Bayview-Butterfly trail is a universally accessible trail that meanders through restored grassland and young forests for 1/3 of a mile, where it ends at an overlook, complete with gazebo, that offers visitors scenic views of the Chesapeake Bay.  The border of the trail is teeming with native plants, which have been set into the ground specifically to attract wild butterflies along its lengths. Pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled for great blue herons, green herons, and great and snowy egrets, all of which are commonly found in the tidal flats and marshes of the refuge.

Patapsco Valley State Park - Grist Mill Trail 

Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, encompassing 16,043 acres and eight developed recreational areas. Recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park’s many popular pavilions. The park is nationally known for its trail opportunities and scenery. We have 170 miles of trails, with 70 of those miles identified as maintained trails. There are hiker only trails and multi-use trails accessible from many areas of Patapsco.

The Grist Mill Trail is a paved trail that runs for 2.5 miles through the heavily wooded park between Ilchester Road and Lost Lake.  This wide, shaded path runs along the river and contains historic markers with information about the mill, the dam, and other interesting tidbits.  Visitors will note the halfway point of the trail at the infamous Swinging Bridge, a type of historical suspension bridge popular in the area.


Cape Code National Park - Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail 

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.

The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail, located at the Marconi Station Site, is a 2.5 mile shaded path with a wooden boardwalk extending most of its length, although there are some sections of trail comprised of sand which should be easily managed by Freedom Chair riders. This trail explores one of the Cape’s few remaining stands of Atlantic white cedar trees, located on the former site of Cape Wellfleet, a U.S. Army base. 

Pittsfield State Forest - Tranquility Trail 

Cascading streams, waterfalls and flowering shrubs abound in Pittsfield State Forest. 65 acres of wild azalea fields are a profusion of pink blossoms in June. The forest has two camping areas and two picnic areas. Fishermen frequent scenic Berry Pond, one of the highest natural water bodies in the state at 2,150 feet in elevation. The vista from the top of Berry Mountain, accessible by auto road from April to December, is a striking panorama and a great place to watch the sun set.

The Tranquility Trail is a paved half-mile trail that winds through the woods and crosses a brook.  Accessible restrooms and an accessible picnic area are conveniently located nearby, and self-guided tour information is available onsite. Visitors who walk the trail in Spring and Summer should keep their eyes peeled for hummingbirds, which can be found in abundance thanks to the many Jewelweed plants that grow along its lengths.

Dunn State Park - Woodland Trail 

This 130-acre park features a 20 acre pond, walking trails, swimming, fishing, picnicking, public programs, and play equipment. Private canoes and non-motorized boats are allowed on the pond. In the winter the trails are open for cross country skiing and often there is a fire blazing in the visitors centers fireplace. All activities offered by the park are accessible to people with disabilities.

The Woodland Trail at Dunn State Park is a compacted stone dust trail that extends through the forested area adjacent to Dunn Pond for approximately one mile.  Be sure to pack your fishing pole, as there are 2 accessible fishing piers, one conveniently located near the visitors center and beach, the other across the pond by Betty Springs Road. Adaptive canoeing and kayaking is also available through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Reservation's Universal Access Program which is a wonderful asset for disabled visitors! Be sure to check their website for accessible programs and events, including accessible hikes during which multiple Freedom Chairs are made available for public use!

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