Mercy Tiffin Hospital is taking its wellness mission down a new trail as the hospital partners with Seneca County Park District to offer a new hiking trail this spring.
"When we were planning the new Mercy Tiffin campus around 2006, we completed a master campus plan and in that plan we envisioned that the woodlot's 20-plus acres would provide a beautiful, natural setting for nature trails," said Charles Ervin, senior director of facilities and campus planning at Mercy Tiffin.
"It very much supports our community wellness mission," he said. "Nature trails supports both physical as well as emotional wellness needs of being in the outdoors.
A peek down the trail, marked with ribbons, at the nature preserve.
"Walking is good for both physical and spiritual well-being," he said.
Because hospital planners were aware their expertise was not in planning a nature trail, they requested the help of the Seneca County Park District to develop the trail.
"That was a very, very logical next step on our part," Ervin said. "We wanted the nature trail to be accessible to the community, and the Seneca County Park District has such a rich traditional of development of parks over the last years.
"We wanted to draw on their expertise," he said. "They are themselves a community organization and makes great sense to that they would be the right partner to work with us to develop this project."
The preserve's steering committee includes hospital volunteers who work under the guidance of park district personnel and committee chairwoman Catherine Gase.
"It's very much been a collaborative effort," Ervin said.
The primary trail is planned to be a mile-long loop through the wooded area.
"We do see opportunities for additional trail development over time," Ervin said.
He said future plans include connecting the wooded trail to an unpaved walking track at the rear of the building adjacent to TR 18, which would provide more than a mile of walking surface.
He said a long-term objective is further development of a fitness track, but no timeline is attached yet.
"The nature preserve will always be more of a rustic trail," he said. "We want it to be accessible, but not paved. It is intended to be accessible by everybody."
Earth Day, April 22, has been selected as the new trail's grand opening.
"Earth Day is a celebration for the Earth and the environment," Ervin said. "We see a connection between our foundresses (the Sisters of Mercy), who very much celebrated the Earth for healing and the early spring celebration."
The timing also allows the grand opening to be one of a series of events celebrating the hospital's 100th anniversary year.
"Spring in itself is a rebirth," Ervin said. "There's a lot of connections to health and wellness."
After the grand opening, the trail is to be open daily dusk to dawn.
Until then, work continues to prepare for opening day.
An Eagle Scout is building a bridge over a creek bed and trail work is under way.