Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blue Hills Trailside Museum - Fully Accessible!

A vintage sign at the entrance to outdoor wildlife exhibits.

Looking for an inclusive and satisfying outing in the Boston area? The Blue Hills Trailside Museum is a great place to visit with family, friends or solo to connect with nature. I stopped in last week before the big snowstorm to check out the accessible outdoor trail through native wildlife exhibits. It was a real treat to connect with live animals there in the middle of winter!

Especially the river otter! On this crisp sunny day, she was busy swimming. I marveled at her swift and fluid grace in water and her awkward gait on land. She criss-crossed her pool repeatedly, flipping over backwards at the shore and swimming upside down back across, occasionally popping up and over floating tree trunk root systems. River otters are truly delightful animals, though you'll notice a strong fishy odor in their presence.

A female otter pauses while exercising in an outdoor pool.

Other animals you can visit outdoors at Blue Hills Trailside Museum are white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks, a turkey vulture, great-horned owl and snowy owl. A pond alongside the museum is a haven for waterfowl and well-stocked bird feeders guarantee the presence of birds.

The routes to these exhibits are now more easily navigable by visitors with visual impairments thanks to Massachusetts Audubon's recent additions of a guide rope system with Braille and large print signage. An audio tour can be downloaded from their website year round and can also be accessed on site by cell phone or MP3 player. The audio tour is a great way for anyone to enhance their experience and learn more about the local wildlife. Though the area outside the museum is on a hillside, all the slopes meet accessibility standards and there are alternate routes to stairways. Kudos to Massachusetts Audubon for such a successful access improvement!

Wooden beads indicate stops along the guide rope trail.

Inside the museum, exhibits take you through the habitats of the Blue Hills, from lowlands to the summit. Carefully crafted and enchantingly displayed, information is easy to understand and presented in multidimensional ways. More live animals are inside, including a screech owl, kestrel, opossum, skunk, rare snakes and a beehive. Again, there is a guided system for those with visual impairments enhanced with audio sounds and tactile opportunities at nearly every turn that kids will love too.

Massachusetts Audubon offers an array of educational programs for all ages. Bird of prey presentations are a regular favorite. There is a fee for most programs I saw advertised, though some are free to members. Don't miss the annual Maple Sugar Festival coming up March 9-10!

For more information, visit

1 comment:

Marcy Marchello said...

PS - the Blue Hills Trailside Museum is on a public bus route and the bus will stop right at the Museum! Check for more info on the Trailside Museum page.