The Phoenix

The benefits of being outdoors are plentiful

- By Jennifer Singley The Hickman is a Quakeraffi­liated licensed personal care home in West Chester. Jennifer Singley can be reached at jsingley@ or www.

Spring is here at last, and after such a long and frigid winter we are clamoring to get outside. The benefits of being outdoors are plentiful — natural vitamin D, stress reduction and ease of exercise, just to name a few.

Luckily, our Chester County landscape offers a multitude of possibilit­ies for outdoor exploratio­n and wellness at every level of ability, often coupled with a history lesson or two.

No matter how near or far you wander, our area abounds with both popular walking destinatio­ns and several hidden gems to discover. Find one that’s calling your name this season.

WalkWorks ChesCo!

A mere two blocks from The Hickman front door, you’ll find signs for WalkWorks, an initiative created by the Pennsylvan­ia Department of Health in 2018 to get Chester County residents young and old walking more.

The 2.4-mile loop guides you through the picturesqu­e, tree-lined streets of downtown West Chester along accessible, safe, welllit sidewalks.

Download a free map on their website; on it you will find points of historical significan­ce that you will pass as you stroll, such as Chester County Courthouse and Everhart Park. For those who plan to drive into town to walk this trail, both borough parking garages are adjacent to the route.

Chester Valley Trail

With trailheads in several locations throughout the county, Chester Valley Trail doesn’t get any more convenient. Having been the site of a railroad in years past, this ADA accessible trail is straight, flat, paved and shaded in many parts.

Visitors can expect to share the trail with other walkers, joggers, cyclists and motorized wheelchair users. The trail is also patrolled by Chester County park rangers, lending an extra element of security to those walking solo.

Consider parking at the East Whiteland Township building to enjoy a mostly shaded portion of the trail while catching up on the historical significan­ce of nearby land; many areas along the trail intersect with the Revolution­ary War movements of Gen. George Washington’s Continenta­l Army and the British troops of Gen. Cornwallis.

The Exton Park trailhead

has significan­tly more sun, but convenient­ly offers public restrooms at its trail entrance.

Stroud Preserve

Sprawling over 500 acres on the outskirts of West Chester, Natural Land Trust’s Stroud Preserve offers trails to fit a spectrum of abilities.

The purple loop, located near the parking lot, is great place to start. This easy and relatively flat .8mile loop meanders through open grassland with access to viewing the Brandywine River. Take a moment to appreciate the ecological significan­ce of the land; in his will, Dr. Morris Stroud stipulated that the preserve be permanentl­y available for scientists at the Stroud Water Research Center to study ways to naturally protect rivers and streams.

Located in the heart of downtown West Chester, The Hickman is not only centrally located to a host of outdoor excursions but also offers its own serene outdoor landscape for residents and their families to enjoy. Contact us today for a tour and see for yourself how “when you’re here, you’re home.”

 ?? WIKIMEDIA COMMONS ?? Part of the Chester Valley Trail.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Part of the Chester Valley Trail.

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