DCR Access News

The DCR Universal Access Program produces a free newsletter two times per year highlighting current developments in outdoor recreation at state parks.

DCR’s Universal Access Program is dedicated to providing outdoor recreation opportunities in Massachusetts state parks for visitors of all abilities. Accessibility is achieved through site improvements, specialized adaptive recreation equipment, and accessible recreation programs.

Here, you can view the text of the latest version of the Universal Access Program newsletter. If you would like to receive a copy of the newsletter, please contact us to get on our mailing list.

Table of Contents

Summer 2023

The Universal Access Program (UAP) offers adaptive, accessible programming seasonally at state parks, pools, and rinks. We partner throughout the year with All Out Adventures, Easterseals Massachusetts, Holyoke Rows, and Waypoint Adventure to run our programs. Some of our programs are supported by Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers.

Our structured programs feature adaptive equipment, professional staff, and instruction and support. Friends, family members, and companions are encouraged to take part in our programs alongside participants with disabilities.

Two rider on a recumbent tandem tricycle peddle on a bike path past some trees. A sign points left to the Connecticut River and right to  Mountain Farms, Rangeview, Swift Way, and Route 116.

Release Forms and Pre-registration

A current release form is required for all our programs. You must also pre-register for each activity with the providing organization. Get into the activity sooner when you arrive by bringing your release form filled out! To pre-register for an activity, in the event there is inclement weather, or if you need to cancel, please contact the providing organization listed for each program.

Essential Eligibility Criteria and Program Attendance Guidelines

You must also meet the essential eligibility criteria (EEC) and follow our program attendance guidelines (PAG) for the activity. EEC help you understand the skills you need to participate in our programs. For risk management considerations, everyone who attends our programs must meet these EEC. You can meet the EEC independently, or with the help of a caregiver (a family member, friend, or PCA). Visit us at mass.gov/uap/eec to learn more. If you have concerns about your ability to meet the EEC or PAG, please speak with the organization leading the activity.  If you have general questions or concerns, please contact us at by email or phone at DCR.UniversalAccess@mass.gov or (857) 319-2168

Check out mass.gov/dcr/universal-access to keep up-to-date with our activities!

Universal Access Summer Spotlights

Find a DCR Park or Rail Trail near you and get active with Massachusetts Council on Aging!

Walk Massachusetts logo on the left and Massachusetts Councils on Aging on the right.

Lace up your sneakers and get ready for the Walk Massachusetts Challenge!

Walking consistently has numerous physical and mental health benefits. Regardless of how far or fast you walk, whether you use a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair, remaining active is key to aging well and living independently. Walking is accessible for most people whether done outside at your local park or indoors on rainy days. Walking and the Walk Massachusetts Challenge is a fun way to build community!

Just register at walkmachallenge.com, choose a challenge, and track your walking during the period between May 1 and Oct 31. With six challenges, there is a challenge for you no matter your ability. The only competition is yourself: to be better than you were yesterday. Meet milestones and be entered to win up to a $50 gift card. And, for each person who completes their challenge, your Council on Aging will be entered to win up to $1,000 for future programming. The more you walk, the more everyone wins!

The Walk Massachusetts Challenge is a program from the Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA) funded by a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. It is open to all Massachusetts residents 18 and older. Find out more at walkmachallenge.com.

Check Out AccessSportAmerica at Malibu Beach!

A windsurfer is surfing while sitting on a crate in a seat with back support.

AccesSportAmerica is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery and achievement of higher function and fitness for children and adults with disabilities through high-challenge sports. Their high-challenge water sports program at Malibu Beach in Dorchester includes adaptive windsurfing, Hawaiian Outrigger Canoeing, Kayaking, stand-up paddling, and surfing, and tennis depending on the site and program.

Where: Malibu Beach in Dorchester

When: June – August

Partner: Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism

For more information: contact Lisa Collins at lcollins@flutiefoundation.org

Important Announcements

A banner reading "Welcome to DCR's Universal Access Recreation Fair" hangs over a shaded stone dust path. Tents with tables are set up along the path edge. People are gathered at the tents talking to each other.

Adaptive Recreation FairSaturday, June 10th, 2023 at Herter Park/Artesani Playground in Brighton, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

Cycling, Nature Walks, Face Painting, Activities, Games, Refreshments, Equipment Demonstrations, Music, & More!

Join DCR’s Universal Access Program and other adaptive recreation organizations for a fun day of accessible and inclusive activities and networking along the Charles River. Enjoy adaptive cycling, equipment demonstrations, face painting, music, refreshments, games and more! There will be family-friendly activities taking place throughout the fair. Find out about adaptive summer programs across the state!

Free Event! Register onlineor for more info email DCR.UniversalAccess@mass.gov.

Volunteers Needed! Contact Mariah to get involved at (857) 289-4175 or Mariah.Fontaine@mass.gov

Exhibitors include:

Summer Program Opportunities

You can find our most up-to-date schedule on our adaptive program schedule. Read on to learn what's planned for summer 2023!

Rowing with Holyoke Rows

This program is free to individuals with people with disabilities and their families. While receiving instruction and the opportunity to practice, rowers also have the chance to participate in competitions! Our program serves people of all capabilities, from beginners to leisure rowers, to competitive racers!

Location: Connecticut River at Jones Ferry, Holyoke

Date and Time: Thursdays, By Appointment Only

Cost: Free

Register: Call (413) 320-3134 or email Holyoke Rows

Kayaking with Waypoint Adventure

Enjoy small group kayaking at historic Walden Pond and on the Charles River with Waypoint Adventure. Experience the fun and serenity of being on the water while being part of a supportive community. 

Location: Walden Pond State Reservation, Concord

Dates: Thursdays July 13, 20 and 27; Tuesdays August 1, 8, 15 and 22

Location: Charles River

Dates:  Saturdays July 8 at Magazine Beach and August 5 at Woerd Ave. in Waltham

Cost: $20 per participant. Cost flexible based on need. One parent/friend/PCA of a program participant with a disability can attend at no charge.

Register: Visit Waypoint Adventure and click on “Register for a Program”.

Cycling with All Out Adventures

Join us for accessible cycling on the Norwottuck Rail Trail in Hadley. We have an array of cycles that can accommodate riders of all abilities from stable, comfortable recumbent trikes to handcycles to tandem recumbent trikes to wheelchair tandems. This program is open to people with disabilities and their families and friends. Instruction, equipment, and assistance as needed are provided.

Location: Norwottuck Rail Trail, Hadley          

Dates: Fridays June 16 – August 25

Participants may sign up for a one-hour timeslot during the program time between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Cost:  The fee is $5–$20. Sliding scale per person per session.

Register: Email All Out Adventures or call (413) 584-2052. Please let us know the approximate time you would like to arrive when you call or email.

Pre-registration is required by 3 p.m. the day before the program.

Paddling with All Out Adventures

Join All out Adventures for paddling across Massachusetts! Paddlers will travel together in a small pod. There will be 1 hour 15-minute timeslots to allow for time to get set up and recreate on the water.

Location: D.A.R. State Forest, Goshen

Kayaking and Canoeing

Dates: Wednesdays July 12 – August 30

Location: Cochituate State Park, Natick


Dates: Tuesdays July 11 – August 28

Location: Quinsigamond State Park, Worcester


Dates: Thursdays August 3-31

Cost: $8 per participant. One guest of a program participant with a disability can attend at no charge.

Register: Call (413) 548-2052 or email All Out Adventures

Pool Program with Easterseals MA

Join us for an adapted recreational swim program! Led by aquatics instructors, groups will participate in fun safety activities and water games that maximize independence in the water. This is a six-week, recreational program and does not provide swim lessons. The swim program is open to individuals with disabilities of all ages and their families. This is a special opportunity to swim with new friends before the pool opens to the public!

Location: Bennett Field Pool, Worcester

Dates: Tuesdays: July 11-August 15 and Fridays July 7- August 11

Cost: Free

Register: (508) 751-6417 or email Patrick Remy

Golf with MPGA

Massachusetts ParaGolfer Association (MPGA) provides adaptive golf lessons, recreational programs, and competitive events.

For more information, register for lessons, or to schedule a round of golf, please email the MPGA or call (508) 889-7581.


Supported programs

Several organizations also offer adaptive programming at DCR locations on their own, sometimes with the use of DCR equipment. These are called supported programs. These supported programs may have their own requirements and release forms. Please contact the providing organization for more information about a supported program.

Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers

The McGraw Center for Adaptive Sports at Nickerson State Park in Brewster offers programs hosted by Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers (SASC).

Water and land based activities include: cycling, hiking, boccia, corn hole, yoga, kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing

Cost: $20/program

To Register: Visit the Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center website. For more information, call (877) 976-7272 or email SpauldingAdaptiveSports@partners.org

Golf for All

Go golfing with Golf for All at Leo J. Martin Memorial Golf Course. To find out program dates and to register, call 617-600-4673 or email info@golfforall.org.


Learn to sail with Community Boating, Inc. on the Esplanade at the Charles River Reservation. Modified Keel Mercuries, dedicated staff assistance, and sailing instruction are all provided. Adaptive seating with harnesses and belts, modified steering devices, and a Hoyer lift are also available

Dates: May 1 to October 15

Hours: Afternoons and weekends; see scheduling page for appointment times

Annual Membership: $50 or reduced fee of $1 upon request

Accessible Camping Information

The Department of Conservation and Recreation offers camping opportunities for campers of all abilities

Our accessible sites are marked on Reserve America with a figure in a wheelchair. You’ll find accessible restrooms in the same loop as accessible sites, though there usually isn't an accessible pedestrian route between the sites and the restrooms.

Before you make a reservation, you should contact the park to see if their cabins, yurts, or tent sites fit your specific needs.

Please view DCR campground regulations before you reserve your campsite.

Past Issues

Past issues of DCR Access News from 2011-2022 are available as untagged PDFs, and issues from 2022 onward are available online. Please contact us for copies in alternate formats.



(413) 545-5995


PO Box 484
Amherst, MA 01004
Date published: December 21, 2018

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