Two Weekends of Earth Day Activities on Trails

We’re Marking Earth Day (Tuesday, April 22) with TWO Extra Big Weekends of Outdoor Teaching and Volunteering:  26 trail workshops, park clean-ups, and crew outings are on our schedule for the next two weekends, and more in between. Check out the opportunities for you to get out, be active, and give back. 

Take a Hike. Find a hike that is right for you on our website. 400 hikes fully described. Search using our Find a Hike index or use our Hike Finder Map. 

Hike with a Map. We have the best maps for you to find your way on trails. Light-weight, no batteries or connection needed maps 


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Access Is April Focus for Catskill Park Advisory Committee

CPAC 040914-cropped

Bluestone, Sundown, and Vernooy Kill Wild Forests management; Mountain Clove and Kaaterskill Clove access initiative; Big Indian land acquisition, trailhead parking, and the Catskill Interpretive Center: these were among the topics discussed April 9 when 30 members of the Catskill Park Advisory Committee (CPAC) met at the Belleayre Ski Center to talk about the Catskill Park.

CPAC is chaired by the Trail Conference and the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and brings together communities, nonprofits, and agencies—including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York City Department of Environmental Protection—to discuss issues facing the Catskill Park.  Continue reading

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Gunks Greenway D&H Canal Gets New Long Path Bridge

Yesterday (Wednesday, April 10), volunteers with our Long Distance Trails Crew (LDTC) were up in Wawarsing in the Shawangunk region, building a new footbridge on the D&H Canal. The canal’s towpath is a popular walk for residents and visitors, and provides a route for a section of our Long Path along the Gunks Greenway.

The crew plans to be out again both Saturday and Sunday this weekend on the Appalachian Trail on West Mountain in Harriman State Park. Sunday will be an Intro to Crew Work day. They welcome new volunteers to join their projects. You can find details and contact info for the outings on the crew schedule on our website (click). Look for ‘Long Distance Trails Crew’ or leader Chris Reyling.

A grant from Avon Products of Suffern, NY, helped pay for supplies.

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Sharing and Learning at Professional Trail Builders Conference

Several of our staff members attended the 2014 Sustainable Trails Conference held by the Professional Trail Builders Association (PTBA) in Roanoke, West Virginia in early April.

Ama & Jeff at Professional Trail Builders Association Conference

Ama & Jeff at Professional Trail Builders Association Conference

This annual conference brings together professional trail builders, trail nonprofits and agency partners from across the country and around the world. Those attending this year included representatives from Brazil, South Africa, and Canada in addition to the United States.

The conference is a mix of classroom and field workshops that address many different trail topics, from how to split a stone to how to incorporate helicopter transport into remote trail construction (something we wish we had in the Catskill Mountains!).  Ama Koenigshof, our Trail Builder, and Jeff Senterman, Senior Program Coordinator, attended workshops on the new Federal Trail Accessibility Standards, trail layout and construction techniques, stakeholder management, rail trails, and more.  They look forward to sharing new information with our volunteers.

In addition to attending workshops and networking at the conference, Ama led two workshops on Building Partnerships that focused on the collaboration at Bear Mountain among volunteers, nonprofits, agency partners, and AmeriCorps Trail Crews on our trails project there. The Trail Conference is recognized as a leader in building partnerships on trail projects and the audience was eager to learn from our organization’s experience.  We look forward to expanding these offerings at next year’s conference to provide even more opportunities to show leadership and provide educational opportunities.

Closer to home, we invite you to learn trail building skills with us at our Trail U. Spring is here and the workshop schedule and trail work outings are moving into high gear. Click here to see what’ already on the Trail U schedule. 

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Be Prepared for Mud Season on Trails

By Ama Koenigshof, Trail Builder and Educator

Ama KoenigshofYes, we want to walk around muddy patches when we come to them, and in spring, we may encounter them often. But walking around the mud ends up widening the trail, causing added impact to the environment we are out to enjoy and more maintenance issues for trail stewards.

Leave No Trace offers the following advice:

Be Ready to Get Muddy!

  • Wear waterproof boots
  • Consider using gaiters
  • Be prepared to hike or run down the middle of the trail even when wet or muddy – stepping off the designated trail to avoid mud or standing water can quickly lead to the creation of undesignated trails, which can lead to even more erosion.

So why do muddy patches happen and how to trail builders deal with them? 

Muddy patches on trails are usually caused by a poor trail alignment that does not allow water to run off it, or by the development of a berm on the downhill side of the trail that then acts as a dam. The key to a sustainable, mud-free trail is to get the water flowing across the trail, not down it or standing still. A side-hill trail that follows the contours of the land will be a permanent solution if done correctly. That being said, muddy spots happen. Here are some ways we deal with them:

Continue reading

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Scout’s Invasives Project Leads to Eagle Honor

by Linda Rohleder, Land Stewardship Director

Matt Whittle becomes Eagle ScoutCongratulations, Matt!

Matthew Whittle of Oakland, NJ, , a senior at Indian Hills High School, and a member of Boy Scout Troop 49, earned Eagle Scout status in March with a service project in Ramapo Mountain State Forest removing invasive plant species along the MacEvoy Trail. Matt organized the work and recruited volunteers to clear the trail of nine different types of invasive plants. After the invasive plants were removed, Matt and his crews planted native low-bush blueberry shrubs and Christmas ferns to fill in the cleared areas. The volunteers contributed 231 work hours over four work days.

Matthew learned how to identify invasive plants and how to remove the different species effectively by working with the Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force (ISF) as a summer intern in 2013.

If you would like to get involved in the Invasives Strike Force, check out the ISF’s spring Trail Crew schedule at


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May 4: Walk or Run to Protect the Palisades

Sign up for our May 4 Trail Event to  Protect the Palisades!

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is raising public awareness on a development threat to the Palisades National Natural Landmark with a 6K (3.7 mile) trail run and walk Saturday, May 4, in partnership with the Palisades Parks Conservancy and Escape to the Palisades.  All net proceeds from the trail run / hike will be donated to the Protect the Palisades coalition that is fighting the height of the proposed LG corporate headquarters slated to be built atop the Palisades.

You can help us protect the Palisades and make your voice heard by signing up now for the Escape to the Palisades Trail Run/Walk.  If built, the planned143-foot tall LG Electronics headquarters structure would drastically diminish the scenic beauty of this National Natural and Historic Landmark and open the floodgates to more high rise towers along the Palisades.


For more than a century,  a bi-state pact, ratified by the U.S. Congress, prevented quarry companies from destroying the scenic Palisades cliffs. The Palisades soon became the Palisades Interstate Park and a National Historic and Natural Landmark.  The Trail Conference got involved creating trails at the top and bottom of the cliffs, which we still maintain today.

Since that time, a tradition of not building above the tree line along the Palisades has been respected, until now.  A century of good stewardship ended when LG Electronics was given the green light to build a 143-foot tall tower, more than quadrupling the 35-foot zoning limitation.

The Trail Conference, together with fellow members of the Protect the Palisades Coalition, is fighting to raise public awareness and encourage LG to amend its site plan and use their 27-acre campus to build their office space in a way that does not rise above the tree line.  So far, LG has ignored our appeals and the matter will eventually be settled in court.

So on Saturday, May 4, join us on trails in Palisades Interstate Park for a day of fun and support for the Palisades you love.

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