NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Take a hike – no really, it relieves stress

By Mercedez McManus


The various outdoor areas surrounding NECC provide students with the perfect places to clear their minds of college stress.

Those who feel bogged down by homework, need somewhere to relax or simply have time to kill between classes should head on down to any of the tranquil outdoor areas surrounding NECC’s Haverhill campus.

These outdoor areas include Kenoza Lake and the Winnekenni Park Conservation Area, including the trails that run throughout the conservation area.

With spring finally here and warmer weather fast approaching (not to mention finals!), lazy afternoons lounging by the lake and peaceful walks through the forests are definitely begging to be had.

The nearest of these outdoor areas to NECC is the Isaac Merrill Trail, which has multiple entrances on Kenoza Street, including one just behind the NECC baseball field.

“I use (Merrill Trail) pretty well every day,” says NECC professor Meredith Gunning. “Would I recommend it to NECC students? You bet! It’s close to campus, great for getting rid of stress, great for having some relax time, and great for seeing the beauty (of nature).”

Gunning loves the stunning lake views and friendly wildlife she encounters along the trail, as well as the improvements that have been made to the trail through the Winnekenni Park Forest Stewardship program.

“The practice of forest stewardship is a dedication to the healthy preservation, protection and perpetuation of actively managed forests,” says Haverhill forester Jack Jackson. “Sound forest stewardship can help us keep the forests [healthy] for future generations.”

New benches, mile markers, and information signs have been added to the trails over the past couple of years, making them more user-friendly than ever before.

Some may be saddened, however, by the amount of trees that have been cut down in the area recently; even more are scheduled to come down in the future. This is all necessary, though, according to Jackson.

“Some of our forests sustain densities that do not allow sunlight to reach the forest floor to encourage new forest growth,” says Jackson.

“Other concerns are extensive storm damage and disease and insect invasions.”

In order to preserve the forests, as well as the various trails that run through them, active forest management is imperative if the public (including NECC students) wishes to continue utilizing such areas.

Another close-by trail for students to consider visiting is the Castle Trail, which is accessible by travelling through Merrill Trail, and whose entrance is located just outside of Haverhill’s own historic Winnekenni Castle.

The castle itself and the outdoor areas surrounding it are also good places to go for some rest and relaxation— and perhaps a bit of fun as well.

“Winnekenni Castle has a bunch of stuff going on throughout the year,” says NECC psychology major Kelly Smith. “They hold a lot of public events… I love going down there to see what’s happening.”

In addition to the castle’s public events, private events such as weddings and birthday parties are also held there from time to time.

When there are no events going on, the public is free to utilize the sprawling lawn areas around the castle, which have brilliant views of Kenoza Lake.

These areas are perfect for any outdoor activities from picnics to sunbathing, making it yet another great spot for NECC students to get away from college stress— even just for a little while. Says Smith, “It’s beautiful around this area… we’re really lucky to have these places.”​