A man and his friend push another man using a wheelchair down a flat, winding path in the woods.
Built to Explore Max Morelli of Opportunity Networks enjoying the All Persons Trail with his clients, Drew and Kevin. © Jerry Monkman/EcoPhotography

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All Persons Trail in Manchester Opens on Earth Day

Universally accessible trail aims to break down barriers to the outdoors

Map of the All Persons Trail at Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve.
On The Map The Cedar Swamp All Persons Trail is an out and back trail measuring a total of 1.2 miles and dotted with resting benches and interpretive points of interest. © Jon Ferland for The Nature Conservancy

The Cedar Swamp All Persons Trail is an out and back trail measuring a total of 1.2 miles and dotted with resting benches and interpretive points of interest.

Getting outside into nature became more accessible and inclusive with the grand opening of the All Persons Trail at The Nature Conservancy’s Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve, located in the state’s most populated city.

New Hampshire’s natural beauty and public outdoor spaces are fundamental to our identity, well-being and economy. However, physical, cultural, and social obstacles prevent many communities of people from accessing natural areas and the benefits nature provides. The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire is working to change this reality one step at a time, and the newly constructed universally accessible trail in Manchester’s largest conserved area seeks to bring people of all abilities and backgrounds closer to nature in the city.

After three years of listening, planning and constructing, the wait is over. Today, on Earth Day, The Nature Conservancy was joined by community leaders, Manchester residents, project partners, funders and elected officials to celebrate the grand opening of the All Persons Trail to the public. The event opened with a traditional Abenaki gathering song performed by members of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People, who collaborated with the Conservancy on efforts to raise Indigenous voices and honor their ongoing physical and spiritual connections to this landscape, and included self-guided walks down the trail with opportunities to hear from project staff along the way.

A headshot of Denise and Paul Pouliot.
Paul and Denise Pouliot Paul is the Sag8mo & THPO (speaker) and Denise is the Sag8moskwa (lady speaker and an artist), Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook and Abenaki People. © Peter Randall

“Being involved in The Nature Conservancy’s All Persons Trail at Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve allowed the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People to share Indigenous knowledge and activities with the public in a long-term way through signage and hands on activities to help guests develop a deeper relationship with Indigenous culture and our bountiful forests,” said Paul and Denise Pouliot, Sag8mo (head male speaker) and Sag8moskwa (head female speaker) for the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People. “Liolaldamina Ik8d8zik N’olakwika—Awg8w8wzi! Please protect our good forest—Enjoy, have fun!”

A headshot of Mark Zankel.
Mark Zankel New Hampshire State Director © ©Jerry and Marcy Monkman/EcoPhotography

"When I am out in nature, I feel invigorated. Happy. Restored. At peace. It is truly good for my mental and physical well-being. I believe all people should have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors, places like The Nature Conservancy’s Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve, and to feel the benefits of time in nature," said Mark Zankel, state director of The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire. "This All Persons Trail is the result of our learning about the challenges that many face in accessing nature, and how our organization can help to break down those barriers. I am so grateful to everyone who helped open our eyes, contributed their perspectives and ideas, and shaped this project so that we can genuinely welcome and provide access for all." 

The 1.2-mile trail winds through the preserve’s unique and diverse habitats, showcasing mystical green wetlands, showy giant rhododendrons and funky rock formations formed during retreating Ice Age. The trail’s design includes a flat, even surface for easy walking and unrestricted movement of assistance-providing devices like wheelchairs and strollers. Periodic benches dot its length for frequent rest stops. Visitors will also be treated to beautifully illustrated, informative panels that highlight the sights, sounds and smells of the preserve, as well as an app-based audio tour that is offered in both English and Spanish. The expanded parking area includes accessible parking spaces and a nongendered, family-friendly portable toilet.

A wide, accessible path winds through woods.
A traditional hiking trail through woods.
A Common Path The All Persons Trail at Manchester Cedar Swamp provides a whole new journey through this globally rare habitat. An existing, traditional trail (left) was upgraded to allow more diverse users, including those using wheelchairs or pushing strollers, to enjoy nature. © Joanne Glode/The Nature Conservancy
A headshot of Emmett LeBlanc. He is sitting on a dock with his dog.
Emmett LeBlanc Emmett is a van-lifer, adventure seeker and LQBTQ+ advocate. © courtesy of Emmett LeBlanc

Full-time van-lifer, adventure seeker and LGBTQ+ advocate Emmett LeBlanc is excited to see the emphasis on inclusion honored throughout the project. “Through grassroots initiatives, TNC has engaged in conversations with a variety of underserved communities, including the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities as well as those with physical and developmental disabilities to receive input and provide necessary feedback on the implementation of this recreational area. The opening of this newly designed trail is paramount to broadening access to the outdoors to everyone who calls New Hampshire home as well as anyone who has the opportunity to visit our beloved state.”

Also beginning today, a new stop on the Manchester Transit Authority's bus route provides much-needed transportation to and from the preserve, located in the Hackett Hill area of Manchester. Riders can now take the Route 11 bus to the "All Persons Trail" stop.

A headshot of Randy Pierce and his service dog, Swirl.
Randy Pierce President and CEO of Future in Sight Randy Pierce with his service dog, Swirl. © Ariel J. Kapteyn/Future in Sight

“Whether listening to audio description while immersed in the scents and sounds, whether appreciating the thoughtful city transit stop for those who cannot drive, whether navigating a trail which mobility challenges might have discouraged; all manner of thoughtful accommodations invite us all to participate together in an experience which is fundamentally a cornerstone of the granite state,” said Randy Pierce, president and CEO of Future in Sight, which has provided services for the blind and visually impaired across New Hampshire for more than 100 years. “This is why I’m proud to celebrate this Earth Day in particular with The Nature Conservatory and their opening of the Accessible trail here in Manchester. If they didn’t choose to take these steps, how many lives would miss out? Better still, because they did take these steps, how many lives will be enhanced and lift all of our community as a result?”

A headshot of James McKim.
James McKim James is the president of the NAACP of Greater Manchester. © courtesy of James McKim

Among the community groups present at the community celebration were Opportunity Networks, NAACP of Greater Manchester, the Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire, Future in Sight, Wheels in the Wilderness, RiverWoods Manchester and AARP NH, representing several of the many groups The Nature Conservancy has consulted with in an effort to ensure the new trail truly serves the needs of the community.

"We are proud to support the opening of the All Persons Trail on this day that celebrates the Earth and all life on it. We encourage all people young or old, melanin-enhanced or melanin-challenged, rich or poor, gay or straight to visit it and experience the wonders of the outdoors, said James McKim, president of the NAACP of Greater Manchester.

A headshot of Max Morelli.
Max Morelli Max is director of program services for Opportunity Networks. © Jerry Monkman/EcoPhotography


“It is more significant than just a beautiful and well-designed trail.  It’s a representation of what America culturally strives for, said Max Morelli, director of program services for Opportunity Networks, which provides genuine vocational opportunities and activities that promote life-enhancing skills for adults with developmental and acquired disabilities. “It’s a place where any person with any level of ability can go to enjoy the beauty of natural New Hampshire, and to learn about one another; a place where everyone can coexist with a shared interest.”

“AARP New Hampshire is a proud supporter of the All Person’s Trail Project, said Erin Mitchell, interim state director for AARP NH. "We’ve seen great results from the AARP Community Challenge grant program supporting communities across New Hampshire as they make tangible improvements that spark long-term change.”

Kim Murphy, marketing specialist for RiverWoods Manchester, is also thrilled for what this new trail means for the active seniors community. “The Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve is an incredible asset to the neighborhood, but now many more residents and guests of RiverWoods Manchester can enjoy all that is has to offer! We would like to extend gratitude to The Nature Conservancy, The City of Manchester and all of the generous donors and volunteers for this wonderful accomplishment.” 

Aislynn Graves rides her mobility scooter on a flat path. Her husband David walks behind her.
Wheels in the Wilderness Aislinn Graves and her husband David have a YouTube channel dedicated to helping members of the disability community adventure outside. © Jerry Monkman/EcoPhotography

Aislinn Graves, who runs Wheels in the Wilderness—a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing the adventures of a former hiker (Graves) who is now mobility impaired—treasures the healing aspects that nature provides. “It's just beautiful back here. It's quiet and peaceful and they've done such a wonderful job on this trail with its lovely, hard ground for wheelchairs and scooters. There is something about nature that heals our souls. It helps us reconnect with the land, with our friends and family, and with God. We need the green places and that peace... It's beautiful and it heals us. That's the big one. To just give us a place to decompress, spend time with nature and ourselves.”

Manchester Cedar Swamp is open to the public from dawn to dusk every day. Information about visiting the preserve—including how to access the audio tour in both languages—is available at http://www.nature.org/manchester, as well on The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire’s Facebook (TNCNH) Instagram (@tncnewhampshire) and Twitter (@Nature_NH) accounts.

Thanks to the many supporters of the All Persons Trail including: AARP, Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation, Appalachian Mountain Club, the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People, Disability Rights Center New Hampshire, Fields Pond Foundation, Madelaine G. von Weber Trust, NAACP of Greater Manchester, NH Parks and Recreation’s Recreational Trails Program, Norwin S. & Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation, Opportunity Networks, RiverWoods Manchester, Samuel P. Hunt Foundation, Southern New Hampshire University, The VF Foundation, and the Manchester community members who provided valuable input.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.