Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:113 Goodnow Road, Princeton, MA
Hours:Trails: dawn to dusk daily; nature center: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Fee: Adults, $4; children ages 3–12, $3; Mass Audubon members, free

massaudubon.org; 978-464-2712

Bathrooms: At the nature center
Water/Snacks: Snacks sold in the nature center

Otters and beavers make their home at this sanctuary, which offers a variety of habitats around its 12 miles of trails.

Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

This 1,200-acre Mass Audubon property has 12 miles of trails that traverse meadows, woodlands, and wetlands. Beavers and otters live here, and a walk to one of the ponds to see the handiwork of the beaver is a great choice for families. Other animals you might see throughout the year include snakes, turkeys, and sheep (the sanctuary keeps sheep to help maintain its meadows). In the nature center, you can buy yarn made from the sheep wool and nature-themed products and books.

Behind the nature center, take North Meadow Trail and head to the right to pick up Birch Trail to Brown Hill Loop and finally to the Otter Pond spur, which leads to a bench where you can sit and watch for otters. Along the way, you’ll cross a stream and see stone walls, evidence of days when the property was a farm. Overall, this hike is about 1.5 miles round-trip. All the trails mentioned above loop around to various features of the property and are quite well marked. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular here in winter.

Another popular activity from May through October is to rent a canoe and paddle around Wildlife Pond, which is a short walk from the parking lot. Beavers make their home here too.

Remember: Bug spray is practically required here—the swamps and ponds attract mosquitoes.

Plan B:

Mount Wachusett is right next to the property and offers a 2.5-mile hike to its summit.

Where to Eat Nearby:

On MA 62, there a few places to stop for a snack or get pizza.


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