The Haverford College Nature Trail was, while it was open, in constant use from those in and around the school community. Its canopy of leaves provided shelter from the harsh summer sun and its soft ground ensured protection against impact injuries for those who ran on it. The school’s own cross country, track, and crew teams frequently used the college’s facilities.
On November 9th, 2018, the cross country team used a section of this trial in their race against Episcopal Academy on EA Day. Their intimacy with this 2.2 mile stretch of dirt and gravel was so great that they even named this section of trail “Nad” for “Dan” backwards. The reverse of this loop had been named “Dan” by assistant cross-country coach and Mr. Tim Lengel. The trail’s influence was felt strongly by those who used it.
On March 12, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf issued an executive order instituting, among other things, state-wide school closures. Along with their academic facilities, the college closed down the Nature Trail entirely, only partially reopening in the fall of 2020 to college students who were both required to wear masks and stay socially distanced. The school’s athletes were forced to find new places and new loops to run.
For Fifth Former Ben Szathmary, the shutdown of the Nature Trail has posed a specific problem.
“As a very avid runner that runs all year round, I have found that it’s important to run on soft surfaces to protect your legs,” Szathmary said. “Haverford College is always the go-to when it comes to soft surfaces near school. Not being able to go to the Nature Trail forces us to run on the concrete, which is a little bit more rough on our bodies.”
Still, Szathmary understands and respects the college’s decision.
“It doesn’t make sense to open to just a certain group of people, whether it’s a runner or only a runner from the Haverford School. Once it’s open for one person it’s open for everyone. Their decision makes sense. It would be nice for us, but it’s better to keep everyone safe. It gets a little crowded there sometimes so it’s better to keep it closed.”
The decision to reopen Haverford College’s campus and Nature Trail resides solely with College President Wendy Raymond.
Director of the Haverford College Arboretum Claudia Kent said, “As of today [March 5, 2021] there is no opening date, and the general consensus is that we would be closed through summer.”
Even though the Nature Trail will not be open for another few months, when it does, you are bound to see a few Haverford gentlemen getting in their summer miles.