There are many ways to enjoy nature in and around Maynard.
Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge
The Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge is located in the southern portion of town (refuge extends into the towns of Hudson, Stow, and Sudbury). The refuge spans over 2,200 acres and is home to over 650 plant species, 135 bird species, and a variety of mammals, reptiles, and fish.
With over 16 miles of trails, you can explore this rustic landscape right here in Maynard. The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset and currently there is no entrance fee. Please note that protecting wildlife comes first so there are no picnic or campsites on the refuge and you can only get around by walking. Dogs are also not permitted on the refuge.
Opening in October 2010 the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex Visitor Center is located at the Assabet River NWR. Located a short walk or drive from the 650 Hudson Road (Sudbury) entrance this new facility is a center for environmental education and information about the refuges in our area.
Visit the refuge web site for more information on access and regulations for use of the refuge. You can also visit the Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (FARNWR) web site for activities and programs related to helping the refuge.
Maynard grew up around Assabet River. Stretching thirty-one miles from Westborough to Concord, the river flows through town and, at one time, powered the mills which rose along its banks.
The river runs quickly through downtown, but is slow-moving above the Ben Smith Dam. Canoes and kayakers can put in at Ice House Landing (located off of Winter Street) and paddle upstream into Stow. This is easily one of the prettiest stretches of the river. A gentle current is easily navigated and the river varies from open stretches to twisty marshland. Travellers will likely see turtles basking on logs, great blue herons fishing along the shoreline, muskrat or beaver cruising from one place to another, bass jumping in the air, dragonflies patrolling the surface, ducks and geese hiding in the reeds, and plenty of songbirds keeping you company as you make your way.
Nutrients in the water cause excess plant growth, especially during late summer months. The towns along the river are working to address this problem.
The Organization for the Assabet River is an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the river. It also runs programs and activities related to the Assabet River. The SuAsCo Watershed Community Council promotes sustainable use of the Assabet, Sudbury, and Concord rivers.
Assabet River Rail Trail
A multi-use recreational rail trail is being developed along a 12 mile stretch of an abandoned railroad bed that ran from Marlborough to Acton. The trail is currently in various stages of completion. In Maynard, the trail is accessible but unfinished (passable to walkers and off-road bicycles). Large portions of the trail are along the Assabet River that offer tranquil scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities (ducks, geese, herons, mute swans, red-winged blackbirds, muskrat, beaver, and the occasional mink).
The Assabet River Rail Trail, Inc. is a non-profit organization that promotes the creation of the trail as well as sponsoring cleanups and other activities along it.
Currently you can walk or bike from Sudbury Street in Maynard to Sudbury Road in Stow (about two miles total). Check ARRT's web site for trail status as new sections continue to be opened to the public.
The Maynard Conservation Commission has established a number of hiking trails throughout town.
Hike up Summer Hill, take a walk along the Assabet River, or take your mountain bike through the Rockland Woods. The Commission maintains a web page with maps and other information on the trails: click here to see the maps.
The Sudbury Valley Trustees has more than seventy properties in sixteen towns, a total of over 2,200 acres. that are available to hike and explore. Several properties in Stow, Acton, and Sudbury are a short drive from Maynard. Please go to SVT's web site for maps of the properties and the rules for accessing and using the properties.