Great Meadows, Assabet River, and Parker River National Wildlife Refuges (Massachusetts)

My daughter was spending her spring break in Massachusetts so I met up with her and spent part of our time together visiting national wildlife refuges.  

Great Meadows is a 3,850 acre wildlife refuge primarily located in Sudbury and Concord.  85% of the refuge is water and wetlands.  We visited the Concord section of the refuge Saturday afternoon, hiking a mile on the Dike Trail and climbing an observation tower.  The refuge was surprisingly busy for a cold overcast March day.   

The 2,230 acre Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge is also located in Sudbury on land previously owned by the military.   The refuge has over 15 miles of trails through a variety of forested habitats.   It also contains old ammunition bunkers from when it was a military installation.  We hiked an enjoyable 2.8 miles and enjoyed watching a pair of geese swimming close to shore.

Sunday morning we went to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newbury.  Parker River is a 4,662 acre coastal refuge with sand beaches, dunes, shrubs and thickets, bogs, swamps, fresh and saltwater marshes, mudflats and rivers.  

We arrived in time to watch the sunrise over the ocean.  This is one of the nicest national wildlife refuges I've been to in New England.  There are numerous board walks leading to the beach, a few short hikes, and an excellent visitor center.  Our favorite hike was the1.3 mile Hellcat Boardwalk Trail, which is almost entirely boardwalk except where it crosses over the refuge road.  The trail leads to three different overlooks that showcase different ecosystems.  Like Assabet, Parker River became surprisingly crowded while we were there despite temperatures in the 30s.