Access for all in a Manchester Nature Preserve

A Pathway to the Future

At Birch Hill, you will find a holistic approach to wellness. Health and wellness appear akin to spokes on a wheel. Medical wellness is covered in our clinic and long-term care avenues. Physical fitness is promoted by your neighbors and Bernadette, the Fitness Coordinator on staff. Nutritional wellness is offered by the well-rounded variety of scratch-made meals. Emotional wellness is supported by the sense of community and friendships found within the family of Birch Hill residents. But another important aspect of wellness is connecting with nature.

Nature bathing or nature therapy as it is often referred to is the broad group of techniques or treatments with the intention of improving an individual’s mental or physical health, specifically with an individual’s presence within nature or outdoor surroundings.

The community of Birch Hill is located in a country setting on 29 lovely acres. While it is not difficult to connect with nature just by stepping outdoors, we have an asset close by that is simply amazing. The Manchester Cedar Swamp preserve is located just across the street and truly provides access to the best of both worlds, right here in Manchester.

It is hard to believe that something so exceptional could get even better. In 2019, The Nature Conservancy began generating interest and ideas to build an ADA compliant trail in the Cedar Swamp Preserve. ADA compatibility means that it will meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law enacted 30 years ago, says accessible trails should ideally be wider, with a flatter grade, among other specifications.

After gathering ideas and information, a proposed plan for the Universal Trail was presented. When it opens next summer, it’ll include a new trail and upgrades to some of the existing paths, plus a new boardwalk, city bus stop and larger parking lot. This will allow a whole new audience to experience this amazing gem, including additional residents, here at Birch Hill.

Bill Foss, a resident nature lover at Birch Hill is one of the biggest advocates for the project which will allow many of his friends and neighbors to experience much more of the connection and sense of comfort that nature has to offer. He says, “Nature doesn’t cough it up all at once, you’ve got to be patient. Very little is revealed in one visit, so prioritizing time in nature observing the many facets is a great way to fully appreciate all it has to offer.”

We look forward to following the project to completion. See you along the trail.