Accessible Distant Hill Nature Trail

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."   Charles Dickens

Distant Hill Nature Trail &

White Rock Woods Play Area

are now open to the public daily, dawn to dusk.

 

Parking is available at the trail-head just off the paved road

GPS address - 66 March Hill Road, Alstead, NH 03602

Diatant Hill Nature Trail is over 3/4 of a mile, givng access to five vernal pools and a forest seep.
Diatant Hill Nature Trail is over 3/4 of a mile, givng access to five vernal pools and a forest seep.

In order to make a portion of the natural areas of Distant Hill Gardens more accessible to everyone, we constructed a three-quarter mile long loop nature trail through a section of the property. This 21-acre portion of Distant Hill is located entirely in the town of Alstead, NH.

 

The Distant Hill Nature Trail and 'White Rock Woods' Nature Play Area , which abuts the trail, are now open to the public daily. Visitors can visit the trail and the play area any day of the year from dawn to dusk. There is a small parking area just off March Hill Road at the Alstead/Walpole town line with a kiosk containing a trail map and other information.

 

Pets are welcome on leash. No horses or wheeled vehicles with the exception of wheelchairs and strollers.

 

The Story of ‘Trails-for-All’ at Distant Hill Gardens

Adrian Curtis, a student with ACCESS, directing Michael Nerrie with a tractor-bucket load of gravel. They are building an accessible hiking trail to one of the vernal pools at Distant Hill Gardens.
Building the first accessible 'Trail-for-All' at Distant Hill Gardens. Photo by Davis Brush.

In the fall of 2013, we began building the first accessible nature trail at Distant Hill Gardens. The work was partially funded through the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership (Q2C), a collaborative effort to conserve the Monadnock Highlands of north-central Massachusetts and western New Hampshire. The grant was applied for and administered through ACCESS, a Keene, NH, based non-profit helping people with disabilities.

 

Three days a week for six weeks that fall, a small group of students and teachers from ACCESS helped us start installing the base layer of our first accessible trail. It snaked its way through the woods to one of the many vernal pools on the property.

 

Michael and 'Goldie' installing the base layer for the accessible loop trail.
Michael and 'Goldie' installing the base layer for the accessible loop trail.

In the spring of 2014 we received a second Q2C grant and continued building the rough base trail to a second vernal pool. We worked throughout the summer of 2014 and completed the base for a half-mile long loop trail that connects four vernal pools and a black ash seep.


Thanks to Ellen Jensen, we were able to finish installing the base layer of gravel for the loop trail in the summer of 2014. The job was made considerably easier because Ellen loaned us her all-terrain dump tractor named 'Goldie'.  Learn More

Michael clearing leaves from the new half-mile long loop trail at Distant Hill Gardens.
Michael clearing leaves from the new half-mile long loop trail.

 

In May 2015, we received another Quabbin-to-Cardigan grant to finish the loop trail with a smooth compacted gravel surface suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. The Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD) is acting as our financial administrator for these grant funds.

 

We finished the loop trail in the fall of 2015 and plan to open it to the public in the spring of 2016. It will be open daily from dusk to dawn with parking available just off March Hill Road.

 

A section of accessible hiking trail at Crotchet Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire. This incredible trail system was designed and built by Peter Jensen and Associates, LLC.
Crotched Mountain accessible trail and photo by Peter Jensen

Michael learned the fine points of building accessible walking trails at a workshop on Sustainable Trail Design in October 2013. It was taught by noted trail builder Peter Jensen of Peter Jensen and Associates (TrailBuilders.com). Peter and crew designed and built the longest Accessible Trail System in a mountainside environment in the United States at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire. 

Everyone Can Dream!

An off-road electric cart like this would help to make Distant Hill Gardens more accessible to everyone.
An off-road electric cart like this would help to make Distant Hill Gardens more accessible to everyone.

Additional trails and paths are being made more user friendly every year, but we can not make all the trails fully accessible.

 

We are hoping to purchase an off-road electric cart for the rougher, undeveloped, and steeper trails. This would enable us to transport visitors who need assistance to all the features of Distant Hill, even those sites that are not connected by accessible trails.

 

Between Donations, Grants, Crowd-funding and saving our pennies, we hope to slowly fund the 'Trails-for-All' construction and the equipment purchases.

 

Michael Nerrie