Celebrating the opening of the accessible Fisher Trail at Mass Audubon’s Brewster’s Woods Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by Richard Fahlander

All Persons Trail opens new vistas to explore in Brewster’s Woods

By Richard Fahlander — Correspondent

“I loved the walk,” declared Katherine Maimone. “I heard an owl and birds singing and can’t wait to check it out again.” 

Maimone was with a Minute Man Arc group walking along Fisher Trail, a new All Persons Trail at the Brewster’s Woods Wildlife Sanctuary in Concord. 

Mass Audubon has officially opened the trail, which the Appalachian Mountain Club built. The pathway provides increased access to nature for people of all abilities. 

Katherine Maimone and Erin Pitkin of Mass Audubon look at the Fisher Trail map. Photo by Richard Fahlander

Concordian Nancy Beeuwkes donated the 143-acre parcel to Mass Audubon in 2019. She said she was especially pleased to see that her wish that the property be open to all is coming to fruition and was glad to celebrate the May 3 ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

Mass Audubon President Beth Goldstein praised Beeuwkes for her “vision, tenacity and generosity that will inspire stewards of the earth for the next generation.” State Sen. Michael Barrett (D-Third Middlesex) called Beeuwkes “a force of nature.”

The original trails at Brewster’s Woods were narrow and difficult to navigate, with steep and eroded sections making passage difficult for some. However, the 1.2-mile Fisher Trail boasts a wide, stable surface of crushed stone on more level terrain, which ensures people using wheelchairs or strollers and those with mobility challenges can better and more safely enjoy the outdoors.

There are also wildlife viewing spots with benches. People can pause to rest as they wind through forests, fields, and wetlands before coming to an impoundment — a marshy area created in the early 1900s by Mass Audubon’s first president, William Brewster — where birdwatchers can see songbirds and migrating waterfowl.

An enriching experience

The Minute Man Arc for Human Services group inaugurated the new trail with an amble to the Concord River. 

The crushed stone trail flows like a silver ribbon through woodland, meadow, and wetlands. Along the way, walkers shared quiet conversation amid the crunch of gravel underfoot and the chirp of birds above. 

Volunteer Coordinator Tammy Mariani appreciates opportunities for clients to spend time outside in a safe, accessible space. “It’s great both for physical activity as well as enriching to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of the natural world,” she said. 

Lincoln resident Sarah Foster and Mass Audubon’s Liz Stetson take advantage of an accessible trail. Photo by Richard Fahlander

Said State Rep. Simon Cataldo (D-Concord), who sponsored a bill to help fund a portion of the trail, “There is such joy and calmness in this place that can now be shared with all ages and abilities.” He looks forward to wheeling his stroller-aged children down the trail in the coming days.  

“Nature provides a host of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that should be available to everyone,” said Renata Pomponi, senior director of Strategic Initiatives at Mass Audubon. 

“With help from the Appalachian Mountain Club and our accessibility consultants, our universally designed All Persons Trails allow us to fulfill our mission of creating new ways for people to enjoy nature at their own pace and comfort level.”

The Fisher Trail at Brewster’s Woods is Mass Audubon’s first major step in a $1 million project to open the property to more public and equitable access. The sanctuary is found off Balls Hill Road adjacent to the October Farm Riverfront conservation area. 

The trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. Visitors can download a digital map at massaudubon.org/brewsterswoods.