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Happy trails for Brooksby residents

Rail trail expands walking, hiking opportunities

Created date

May 21st, 2013

Is there a place to walk? Marie Senio asked as one of her first questions when visiting ' Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass. At the time, Marie was living in Bedford, Mass., and walking was an essential part of her exercise regimen. Whenever she wanted to avoid the hill in her area, she got into her car and drove to a better spot. I just walked in my own neighborhood, which was limited, she says. Here at Brooksby, you have a wider area to walk in. It s nice to have a natural walking area without having to drive to it.

Expanding trails

Opportunities for indoor and outdoor walking abound on Brooksby s 90-acre campus. People who live at the community have long taken advantage of trails around the perimeter of neighboring Brooksby Farm in the warmer months, and indoor walkways connecting Brooksby s buildings in winter. In the last year, those opportunities expanded with the opening of the Danvers Rail Trail and a gate connecting it to Brooksby. The timing was right for Lafayette Gosselin, who lives at Brooksby and had been on the lookout for new walking options. Lafayette had discovered and researched the trail when the rails were still down evidence of the long-abandoned railroad from Boston to Maine. Today, the rail trail is a 4.33-mile shared path maintained by community volunteers. Brooksby Executive Director Jim Wingardner worked with the City of Peabody to install the locked gate last June. Brooksby residents can access the trail any time with their individual keys. This spring, Brooksby donated three benches to the trail, fulfilling local Girl Scout Christina Liotti s Gold Award project to enhance the area.

Social event

People use it for dogs. It s a nice running area. People use it with their bicycles, and we here at Brooksby, we walk, Marie says. Brooksby residents can walk toward downtown Danvers and as far as Topsfield, or toward Peabody. It s a nice scenic walk because it s all woods, Lafayette says of the Peabody end of the trail. Every Wednesday at 11 a.m. from April to November, Brooksby s walking group takes to the trail, led by one of the community s fitness center specialists. As many as 20 walkers keep their own pace for the two-mile journey. It s a nice way to socialize with the people who live here, it s a wonderful way to get exercise, and I just love doing it, adds Marie, who also makes use of Brooksby s fitness center and all-season swimming pool, where she swims three times a week year-round. For more information about the Danvers Rail Trail, visit