written by Sofie Wicklund, Community Engagement and Trail Assessment Intern for Monadnock Outdoors
Monadnock Outdoors is a regional partnership of community leaders from municipalities, schools, businesses, nonprofits, coalitions, and faith and civic groups who have joined together to foster connections to nature and holistic community well-being through education and the promotion of active living in the Monadnock Region.
As one of the workgroups of the Healthy Monadnock Alliance, we are dedicated to advancing the active living goals of the Greater Monadnock Community Health Improvement Plan. I had the opportunity to serve as the 2023 summer intern for Monadnock Outdoors. Read more about a few of the projects I have been working and collaborating on below!
Assessing Trail Accessibility
Part of my work this summer included coordinating a training session using the HETAP assessment machine in partnership with the UNH Cooperative Extension and the Southeast Land Trust. HETAP (which stands for High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process) is a tool that collects information while on trails to inform current usability and future management decisions.
The HETAP machine does this by measuring the trail slopes, grades, features (like benches and signage) and more. This information helps land managers meet federal accessibility standards but can also be used by trail users to make informed decisions about the best paths to take.
Following the training, I joined partners to pilot the HETAP machine on trails in the region, including the Calhoun Family Trails managed by the Monadnock Conservancy and the Jonathan Daniels Trail managed by the City of Keene.
A Powerful Reminder
Our HETAP training gave land managers the space to continue conversations about accessible recreation and management. We learned that the HETAP machine is a great way to gather detailed information about a trail, but that it isn't the only way to improve accessibility. During the training, we brainstormed ways to make trail information accessible to larger audiences, from showing videos of the trail to inviting community members to come consult on trails based on their own experiences.
Taking a Stroll
On July 27th, Monadnock Outdoors co-hosted an Evening Community Stroll along the Ashuelot River in Keene. One goal of this event was to bring visibility to the Jonathan Daniels Trail, located right in downtown Keene! While we were joined by quite a few mosquitoes, we also had the opportunity to watch an evening mist settle over the river and learn about the history of Jonathan Daniels while we walked.
The Monadnock region is home to many amazing trails and recreational resources. However, it isn't always obvious how to learn about, access, or engage with the outdoors. Everyone has a different relationship with outdoor recreation, and the Evening Community Stroll brought attention to a nearby trail for folks who might not have as much experience with these recreational opportunities.
Map and Trail Reconnaissance
Another piece of my summer internship focused on supporting the Monadnock Outdoors recreational resources map. This map shows information about recreation sites across the Monadnock region, including trailheads, public parks, boat launches, fishing areas and more! My work included visiting some of the map sites and collecting information to give people a better feel for the site offerings and conditions.
There are an incredible array of opportunities and I could not visit them all, so we are putting together a guide for volunteers to support this work into the future. We are lucky to have SO many recreation sites in the region, and we hope to continue to make these spaces more accessible with your help!
A Matter of Perspective
Knowing how and where to access information about recreation sites is important. When I first moved to Keene last year, I wanted to get out and explore new recreation sites, but was not quite sure how to find them. The Monadnock Outdoors map is designed to be a central place to find this information. While the map is still in progress, we encourage you to use it as a start to finding your next adventure!
Although my internship is coming to a close, Monadnock Outdoors is continuing to move in exciting directions! Stay tuned for more information on the free community Gear Library, and reach out about exciting opportunities to get involved in improving recreational capacity! I am so grateful for the work Monadnock Outdoors is doing for this region, and for the wonderful community members making it all happen!
For more information on Monadnock Outdoors or get involved, visit cheshireconservation.org/monadnock-outdoors
To learn about the role the Healthy Monadnock Alliance plays in our community, see https://healthymonadnockalliance.org/
For the Outdoor Resource Map, follow https://www.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=812e9fe793ca4a32ba160ad60e2f7358#