A red city bus parked in a parking lot with 'Manchester' on the destination sign.
Transit To Trails Manchester Transit Authority buses will take riders from downtown Manchester, New Hampshire to walking trails, parks and swimming holes within 30 miles of the city. © MTA

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Transit to Trails Launches in Manchester

Public transportation will connect residents with hiking trails, state parks this summer

Two hikers walk down a trail. A yellow trail marker with a green arrow is affixed to a tree in the foreground.
Time to Explore Transit To Trails will bring riders to easy walking trails and engaging outdoor spaces. © Mike Wilkinson

Transit To Trails will bring riders to easy walking trails and engaging outdoor spaces.

Public transportation is a pathway to opportunity for many—employment, education, health care and more. Now these opportunities will include bringing people closer to nature and outdoor recreation. Manchester Transit Authority, together with The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire, today announced the launch of Transit to Trails, a pilot program providing transportation to walking and hiking trails, state parks and water destinations to Manchester residents utilizing the city bus service for $5: the price of a bus ticket.

"The Granite State has so many incredible outdoor resources, but too often they are only accessible to people fortunate enough to own a car,” said Manchester Alderman Will Stewart, who first brought the idea to Manchester Transit Authority after hearing of a similar pilot launching in Seattle, Washington. “This innovative partnership will help reduce this transportation barrier and increase Manchester residents' access to some of southern New Hampshire's premier natural areas."

Transit to Trails is a seasonal service that will operate on the first Saturday of each month beginning May 7th through September 3rd of this year. Riders can purchase an excursion pass at Veteran’s Park the day of the event, board the bus and be transported to outdoor spaces within 30 minutes of the heart of the city. This year’s destinations include a mix of nature centers and New Hampshire State Parks and builds upon the MTA’s popular Summer Escapes seasonal route to Hampton Beach, which provides residents access to the ocean during the summer months.

Logo for the Manchester Transit Authority.
MTA Manchester Transit Authority is a partner in Transit to Trails. © MTA

Manchester Transit Authority is a partner in Transit to Trails.

“MTA is excited to partner with The Nature Conservancy in order to bring this pilot program to life,” said Mike Whitten, executive director of the Manchester Transit Authority. “Connecting passengers with natural spaces like our state parks and forests offers so many benefits and we’re thrilled to do our part to eliminate transportation as a barrier to access for members of our community.”

Transit to Trails also furthers The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire’s commitment to breaking down barriers to nature and ensuring that the outdoors is truly accessible to all. The program’s launch comes on the heels of the grand opening on Earth Day of their All Persons Trail at Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve, a universally accessible trail located in the Hackett Hill area of the city. The trail—suitable for users of all ages and abilities, including those using wheelchairs and pushing strollers—can be visited using public transportation via MTA’s Route 11 bus line.

Logo for The Nature Conservancy.
TNC The Nature Conservancy is a partner in Transit to Trails. © The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a partner in Transit to Trails.

“So many of us who live in this state love the great diversity of experiences that the New Hampshire landscape provides. By providing access to nature both within the City of Manchester and to nearby destinations via Transit to Trails, we hope more folks in New Hampshire will explore the outdoors, get to know the state's mountains, beaches, woods and streams and feel connected to the beautiful nature that surrounds us,” said Joanne Glode, southern New Hampshire stewardship ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire and project manager for the Cedar Swamp All Persons Trail project.

"Not everyone has the ability to reach hiking trails and enjoy the outdoors. We applaud the Transit to Trails effort and look forward to people of color taking advantage of it to enjoy what nature has to offer," said James McKim, president of the NAACP of Greater Manchester.

Logo for New Hampshire Audubon.
NH Audubon Massabesic Audubon Center will be the first Transit to Trails destination. © NH Audubon

Massabesic Audubon Center will be the first Transit to Trails destination.

New Hampshire Audubon’s Massabesic Center in Auburn will be the program’s first destination this Saturday, May 7th. Located on a historic farm site, visitors will enjoy 5 miles of easy-going hiking and walking trails, beautiful views of Lake Massabesic, and access to the center including an animal room with live snakes, turtles and frogs, an Art Exhibit room, gift shop and restroom facilities.

“New Hampshire Audubon is thrilled that Massabesic Center has been chosen as a site for Transit to Trails!" says Kimmie Whiteman, director of Massabesic Center. "Massabesic Center is located so close to Manchester, yet many city residents have no way to get to our Center or events. I hope this program is wildly successful and that we can become a regular destination for Manchester buses. Everyone should have access to hiking trails, gardens and a place to learn about our environment. We’re so pleased to be perfectly positioned for this partnership.”

Logo for NH State Parks.
NH State Parks Transit to Trails includes trips to Bear Brook and Pawtuckaway State Parks. © NH State Parks

Two Transit to Trails destinations include NH State Parks.

Additional Transit to Trails locations this summer include Bear Brook State Park on June 4, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Elm Brook Park on July 2, Pawtuckaway State Park on August 6, and Fox State Forest on September 3. On those mornings, riders can purchase excursion passes for $5 each (cash or credit) at Veteran’s Park beginning at 8:30am. Riders should note that some locations have entry fees, which are not included in the bus fare. Buses will depart the park at 9:00am, 11:00am and 1:00pm. Buses returning to Veteran’s Park will depart at 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm.

For more information on the Transit to Trails program and upcoming destinations, visit www.mtabus.org. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to connect people and nature, visit www.nature.org/newhampshire.

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The Nature Conservancy works in New Hampshire and around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science and using a collaborative approach that is grounded in the needs of our state and local communities, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. In New Hampshire, the Conservancy has helped protect nearly 300,000 acres of forests, fields and natural areas, along with 680 miles of coastal shoreline and river frontage. To learn more, visit www.nature.org/newhampshire or follow us: @tncnewhampshire on Instagram, TNCNH on Facebook, and @Nature_NH on Twitter.

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.