Transit To Trails: Free bus trips this summer to state and local parks

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Canoeing
Ride a bus to Pawtuckaway State Park on June 3 for a day of canoeing.

MANCHESTER, NH – A partnership between environmental groups, public transportation and social services organizations will once again host Transit to Trails, a program providing transportation to walking and hiking trails, state parks and water destinations to Manchester residents. This year Transit to Trails will be available at no cost to riders.

Transit to Trails is a seasonal service that operates on the first Saturday of each month from June through October of this year. Riders can arrive at Veteran’s Memorial Park in downtown Manchester the day of the event, board the bus and be transported to outdoor spaces within 30 miles from the heart of the city.

This year, Transit to Trails will visit city parks, state parks and nature centers. Destinations for 2023 include:

  • June 3: Pawtuckaway State Park
  • July 1: Manchester City Parks Day and ORIS Fresh Start Mobile Market
  • August 5: Bear Brook State Park
  • September 2: New Hampshire Audubon Massabesic Center
  • October 7: Pawtuckaway State Park

“We are thrilled to be able to work together with so many extraordinary organizations to bring Transit to Trails back for its second year,” said Sheila Vargas Torres, community partnerships manager for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire, one of the project partners. “Our organizations together are deeply committed to breaking down barriers to nature and ensuring that the outdoors is truly accessible to everyone.”

On trip days, buses will depart the Manchester Transit Authority Information Center at Veteran’s Memorial Park (located at 775 Elm Street in downtown Manchester) at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. (with an additional departure at 1 p.m. on the July 1st Manchester City Parks Day). Buses will pick up from the locations at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and return passengers to Veteran’s Park. There is no pre-registration, and passengers will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no cost to ride the buses, and the program is covering the entry fees for riders visiting the state parks.

“MTA is thrilled to again participate in the Transit to Trails program for the 2023 season! We are even more excited that this year, as the service will be available fare-free for all riders,” said Mike Whitten, executive director of the Manchester Transit Authority. “We know that when families are making economic decisions, things like recreation are often among the first to get cut. But we also know that there are so many health benefits, both physical and mental, that come from spending time in nature. It’s our hope that removing the fare as a barrier will expand access to even more people than last year.”

City Parks Day: July 1

New this year is the addition of a Manchester City Parks Day, when the Transit to Trails buses will stop at four parks including Sheehan-Basquil, Raco-Theodore, Piscataquog River, and Rock Rimmon Parks—many of which have swimming pools, splash pads, playgrounds, ballfields and hiking trails. The Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) will be holding their Fresh Start Mobile Market at Sheehan-Basquil Park from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. during Manchester City Parks Day.

Pickups from City Parks: Buses will pick up as they drop off passengers at each location and do a final loop at 4:30 p.m. Approximate pick-up times at each park are:

Sheehan-Basquil Park: 9:06 a.m., 11:06 a.m., 1:06 p.m. and 4:36 p.m.
Raco-Theodore Park: 9:14 a.m., 11:14 a.m., 1:14 p.m. and 4:44 p.m.
Piscataquog River Park: 9:17 a.m., 11:17 a.m., 1:17 p.m. and 4:47 p.m.
Rock Rimmon Park: 9:22 a.m., 11:22 a.m., 1:22 p.m. and 4:52 p.m.

“Fresh Start Farms is so excited to bring the Mobile Market to Sheehan-Basquil Park during the Manchester City Parks Day,” said Savitri Horrigan, food access manager for ORIS. “We’ll have local and affordable vegetables and fruits (50% off with SNAP/EBT), eggs, and other pantry items. And as a Manchester resident, I’m personally thrilled to celebrate fresh food and fresh air with my community.”

ORIS Mobile Market scaled
ORIS Mobile Market

“What a great opportunity to sample some of our best parks”, said City Parks Chief Mark Gomez.  “As the summer heat arrives, Manchester’s parks offer the chance to cool off in the water, hike through the woods, picnic in the shade, and just relax.”

The June and October trips will bring riders to Pawtuckaway State Park, one of New Hampshire’s most popular outdoor spaces. The park features sandy lakeside beaches, swimming, barbeque grills, boat rentals and more. In August, riders will visit Bear Brook State Park, New Hampshire’s largest.

New Hampshire Audubon’s Massabesic Center in Auburn will be the program’s September 2 destination. 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, an Art Exhibit room, gift shop and restroom facilities. Guided bird hikes will be offered at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day.

“New Hampshire Audubon is elated to be a continuing partner with the Transit to Trails program in 2023.  It was such a joyful experience last year, welcoming local residents who had never had the opportunity to visit our Massabesic Center, which is only 15 minutes from downtown Manchester,” said Kimberly Whiteman, director of the Massabesic Center. “This year, the bus ride will be free of charge! We have planned nature hikes and family-friendly activities coinciding with drop-off times to help visitors enjoy the full breadth of environmental education that we have to offer at our wildlife sanctuary. You can meet a live Animal Ambassador Turtle or Snake, enjoy an indoor nature activity, or walk the gardens and trails with a guide. We hope to see you on the bus!”

Detailed information on the Transit to Trails program and upcoming destinations are available in English, Spanish and French. To learn more, visit www.nature.org/TransitToTrailsNH.

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City Parks and Rec Department