Location: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge located on Plum Island in Newbury, Rowley and Ipswich Massachusetts
From Newburyport, MA take Water Street to the Plum island Turnpike, onto Plum Island. Take the next right (South) to The Refuge Gatehouse. Proceed on Refuge Road 2.5 miles to Parking Lot # 4 Note: Before Plum Island on the Turnpike is the Refuge Headquarters.
Note: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge reopened the Marsh “loop” portion of the Hellcat Boardwalk Trail. That section of the boardwalk, in its present form, is really an “out and back” boardwalk segment (for now). Please view the video announcement and walk-through, https://youtu.be/aqalCJjz3fs.
Parker River NWR is noted for its trails, boardwalks and observation platforms which greatly enhance wildlife viewing opportunities for the many visitors that frequent the facility.
The Hellcat Boardwalk Trail (formerly called the Hellcat Interpretive Trail) System is the premiere area on the Refuge where this activity occurs. The overall Hellcat trail system is 5,334 linear feet of elevated boardwalk meandering through dunes, shrub thickets, vernal pools, maritime forest and brackish marsh habitats. The boardwalks and trails on Parker River NWR are renowned through out the birding community and used by large numbers of visitors from the non-birding public, school groups and others that come to the Refuge with the Hellcat Trails being the focus for wildlife /bird observations. The Refuge conducted a Visitor Use Survey in 2011 which indicated that 48% of Refuge visitors hiked the trails. This equates to over 120,000 individuals utilizing this trail system annually.
Width: 60 inches.
Primary Surface: Boardwalk
Secondary Surface: None
Elevation Low Point: 5
Elevation High Point: 40
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2013
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsWebsite: Parker River NWR
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
U.S. Fish & WIldlife Service
6 Plum Island Turnpike
Newburyport, MA 01950
Restructured trail, lovely experience
I read this trail was improved and restructured over the last couple of years. This was my first time on it (Feb 2022), and even in the snow, I found it well built and easy to navigate. Nice walk through marsh and dunes. Gorgeous viewpoints. Make sure you visit the observation tower by the parking area (spur path).
February 9, 2022
One portion of the Marsh Trail is open to the duck bind which has a nice view of the Marsh over to main land. One still needs to pay attention to the board conditions.
July 22, 2018
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