Get out there and hike some Concord trails

Jon Bodell / Insider fileCheck out Merrmiack River Greenway Trail – like today.
Jon Bodell / Insider fileCheck out Merrmiack River Greenway Trail – like today.

For the Insider

The days are getting longer, warmer and the flowers are reawakening so let’s get outside and enjoy the beautiful countryside that the Capital area has to offer. Off-road or on-road, there are no shortages of activities to get involved in! I encourage you to get outside for some physical activity as often as you can.

The physical and mental health benefits of exercise are well known yet many of us, myself included, find it challenging to fit some well-deserved exercise into our busy schedules.

As a supporter of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail, I want to introduce you to the project. In 2011, a dedicated group of your neighbors formed Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail (FMRGT) around the collective vision of creating a 15-mile-long shared-use paved trail following the Merrimack River through Concord. The trail will serve numerous users, including bicyclists, walkers, runners, baby strollers and rollerbladers in the warm weather months and snow-shoers and cross- country skiers in the winter. Expected outcomes of developing the MRGT include providing increased opportunities for outdoor recreation and fitness and non-motorized access to existing and planned conservation land and adjacent trail networks. Head out past the cornfields behind Convenient MD on Loudon Road and you will see the first section of the MRGT, where a group of volunteers removed more than 30 cubic yards of trash and constructed a hiking trail along the Merrimack River, with views of the State House and downtown (the site of Phase I of the trail). For the first time, the agricultural fields, floodplain forests and Merrimack River – that have been right in the middle of our city for generations – are now open to the public for enjoyment. When completed, the trail will bring both residents and visitors to the beautiful Merrimack River, offering opportunities for recreation, fitness and outdoor adventures.

Who are the people behind this effort? I’m glad you asked! The FMRGT Board of Trustees is comprised of your neighbors; a group of passionate and committed volunteers from varying walks of life. They are supported by Concord city staff, volunteers serving on committees and by youth groups. To learn more about the trail, to donate your time or to follow our trail development activity please visit our website, mrgt.org. The MRGT is part of the Capital area’s trail system that, for many, is something of a best kept secret – but not if you’re still reading this article! There are 28 trails located in and around Concord (MRGT is No. 27) and maps for the trails can be found at concordnh.gov/trails. So, with just a couple mouse clicks, you and your family or friends can be off on a new adventure right in your own back yard.

And if trails are not your thing, not to worry, just head out your front (or back) door and take a stroll around the neighborhood. After 15-30 minutes of moderate activity you won’t believe how much better you’ll feel. Over time, increase your activity an additional 15-30 minutes and the benefits will be even greater!

Steve Epstein is a Trustee of Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail and is a contributing member of the Capital Area Wellness Coalition (CAWC), which coordinates community resources and builds partnerships to create a culture of healthy living for everyone. The CAWC meets monthly on the second Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Center for Health Promotion, 49 S. Main St. in Concord. Visit capwellness.org to learn more.

Author: Steven Epstein

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