Image of visitors attending walking tour on boardwalk

Boardwalks, natural surface trails, beach, paved, and unpaved roadway provide ample opportunity for hiking, walking, and jogging at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. These activities provide an excellent way to view wildlife that may be hard to spot from a moving vehicle, like barred owls, foxes, and more. During the busy summer months, accessing the refuge on foot can be a great way to visit the refuge. Visitors are allowed to walk onto the refuge when it is otherwise closed for vehicle capacity. Please note: dog walking is never permitted at the refuge. A list of alternate beaches and recreation areas, including dog-friendly sites, can be found here.

The 6.4-mile refuge road is shared by vehicles, bikers, and pedestrians. Approximately 3.5 miles consists of paved asphalt, followed by a gravel road that terminates on the southern tip of the island. It is recommended that hikers, joggers, and walkers travel against the flow of traffic to increase visibility, and cross at designated crosswalks. The refuge road provides views of the salt marsh salt marsh
Salt marshes are found in tidal areas near the coast, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

Learn more about salt marsh
, maritime forest, salt pannes, and Plum Island sound. Walking, hiking, and jogging on the beach is permitted outside nesting shorebird season. The majority of the refuge beach is closed to all public use from April 1st into August to protect piping plovers. The refuge visitor center also serves at the northern terminus for the Bay Circuit Trail, which provides access to many nearby recreational and historical sites.

Accessibility at the refuge is a top priority. If you or someone in your party require an accommodation, please contact the refuge headquarters. A beach wheelchair is available upon request, and wheelchair accessible trails include:

  • Hellcat Interpretive Trail (boardwalk)
  • Pines Trail (crushed stone & earth)
  • Lot 1 beach overlook (boardwalk)
  • Lot 3 beach overlook (boardwalk)
  • Lot 7 beach overlook (boardwalk)
  • North Pool Overlook (unpaved lot)
  • Bill Forward Blind (earth & boardwalk)