Massachusetts Audubon Broadmeadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary for the people of Worcester. If you drive up Grafton St and work your way over to Massasoit, it’s not hard to find. The parking lot is small and fills up fast on nice days. If you live in Worcester, you can park and walk the trails for free. Out of towners are asked to pay a small fee, mostly on the honor system. Buy a Mass Audubon membership, and you’re covered for visits to sanctuaries all around the state. It’s a popular, family friendly, well marked system of trails, some of which are accessible to those of us who have issues concerning vision or mobility.
Meet the Route: The 5!
But if the parking lot is full, you’re out of luck. People get turned away. I see it happen all the time, as I am stepping off the WRTA #5, which is ADA compliant, has plenty of room for families, and arrives at Broad Meadow every hour on the half hour. It’s a wonderful thing that we can all take a bus to a wildlife refuge.
Rt 5 is interlaced, which means that the same bus serves two different routes. If you live near a bus stop that serves the alternate route, you could ride all the way to Broad Meadow on one bus.Good luck finding out which route is interlaced with another. The WRTA does not advertise the details.
Since there is no fare being charged on WRTA buses at the moment, a family can have a no cost day trip without the worries of driving. Or parking. Bring a picnic!
For the benefit of my readers who do not take the bus, I will describe the experience. All buses, except one (#8) travel inbound to the Hub. At the Hub, you disembark onto a central platform the lid of which is topped with photovoltaic panels. It’s kind of dark on grey days, and the wind howls through it in the winter. Here the bus riders gather and wait for their connections to the outbound routes which will transport them to their actual destinations.
Few of these riders will have used the information available on the official website, therta.com, but they should have. Perhaps it’s possible to plan your trip so that you aren’t waiting an hour for your next bus.
The good news is that the #5 often shows up a little early, and so you will have time to board and get settled without any rushing . It runs on a clockface schedule, which means it leaves at the same minute each hour. (It departs at the top of the hour).Once you are under way, the route proceeds underneath Interstate 290 until it turns left up Grafton Street towards Rice Square. It looks like an industrial zone, but there’s a strong retail presence as well. Not too many empty store fronts around here.
The City has been hard at work on these streets. Everything is halfway finished. Expect bumps. But once you crest the hill, things change. A shopping plaza on one side, residential zoning on the other. Only grandfathered businesses allowed. Then a right turn through some semi-affluent developments, on to Massasoit Street, and you’re there. The ride is scheduled to take half an hour, sometimes it takes under 20 minutes.
The trails near the parking lot are easy, and grow more challenging as you cross the brook. There are plans for walkways across the water, but right now it’s all stepping stones. The trails form loops of various lengths, and if you are an average walker you can arrive on one bus and depart an hour later on the next. The visitor center is not always open, but when it is there are clean rest rooms, exhibits, and you can borrow a walking stick, and sometimes snowshoes in the winter. Check out their website for programs and events.
Usually I am all alone on the bus for the stop at Audubon. It’s a shame that more people don’t use it, but they probably don’t know about it. Check it out!
Riders Action Council