Catskill Conservation Corps Rehabilitates Devil’s Acre Lean-to on Hunter Mountain

By Doug Senterman, Catskills Program Coordinator 

CatskillConservationCorpsLogoFive volunteers from around the Catskills and beyond joined Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Catskill Conservation Corps (CCC) staff members in a rugged hike up the Devil’s Path to the Devil’s Acre Lean-to on June 13-14. Many hands made light work of the rehabilitation work, and some of those hands were on the smaller side! Our crew ranged in age from 11 to “old enough to not ask about age.” We were delighted to discover that one of our volunteers also handles vocals for a local band. Staining and singing are a great combination, and the woods rang out with a joyful noise. Wildlife sightings and lots of interactions with passing hikers made the day go by quickly.

The group focused on cleaning and then re-staining the Devil’s Acre Lean-to. This lean-to is located on the southwest side of Hunter Mountain and is a popular hiking and camping destination on the mountain. The cleaning and re-staining of the lean-to will help keep the structure in good condition for years to come. Future work trips to the lean-to will focus on replacing the aging roof and relocating the privy.

The Catskill Conservation Corps will be leading a number of lean-to, trail, and litter pickup events on state lands throughout the Catskill Mountains region in the future. Keep up with news, events, workshops, and volunteer opportunities in the Catskill region at and

The Catskill Conservation Corps is a partnership between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, whose volunteers maintain a network of more than 2,100 miles of trails, including more than 200 miles in the Catskills. The Catskill Conservation Corps aims to increase and support volunteer contributions on projects that protect natural resources and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in the Catskill Mountains. All Catskill Conservation Corps events are open to the public.


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Trail Conference Staff Announcements: Spring 2015

Jeff Senterman Named Associate Director of the Catskill Center

Jeff Senterman

Credit: Phil Cantor Photography

On July 1, Jeff Senterman will be leaving his role as the Trail Conference’s Senior Program Coordinator and Catskills Program Coordinator to become the Associate Director of the Catskill Center. The mission of the Catskill Center is to protect and foster the environmental, cultural, and economic wellbeing of the Catskill region. In his new position with the Center, Jeff will continue to collaborate with the Trail Conference’s efforts in the region, including participation in the Catskill Park Advisory Committee, the Catskill Park Coalition and associated advocacy days in Albany, and guiding new efforts to create a comprehensive regional recreation plan for the entire Catskill Park that will direct future improvements, recreation enhancements, and protection of the park.

Jeff’s contributions to the Trail Conference and the Catskills have been tremendous. Under his leadership, nine miles of the Long Path were built over Romer Mountain, a King Post bridge was replaced in Platte Clove, numerous lean-to shelters were repaired, the Trail Conference was awarded the Catskill Conservation Corps to manage volunteerism in the Catskills for the DEC, and our inaugural season of the Summit Stewards program was launched. Under Jeff’s watch, the role and scale of the Trail Conference’s responsibilities in the region expanded greatly; his passion and dedication for the region will be greatly missed. We wish Jeff the best of luck in his new role with the Center and continue to expect great things from him.

Jennis Watson

Credit: Amber Ray

Farewell to Membership and Development Manager Jennis Watson

Jennis Watson joined the Trail Conference as Membership and Development Associate in early 2012 and quickly became an invaluable behind-the-scenes resource, organizing the Trail Conference database, coordinating fundraising mailings, and establishing helpful office protocols. During her tenure, she was promoted to Membership & Development Manager. Jennis has played a key role in streamlining the back end of the Development department, improving productivity to allow for an efficient fundraising effort through the Darlington Schoolhouse campaign. She also volunteered for the Trail Conference, working on the discovery phase of the website upgrade project and serving as assistant to the Trail Crew Chief for the Long Distance Trails Crew. We thank Jennis for all of her contributions and wish her and her growing family all the best in their new home in Georgia.

Brendan Cunningham, Douglas Senterman Join Trail Conference Staff

Brendan Cunnigham

Credit: Phil Cantor Photography

Brendan Cunningham, Membership and Development Associate, brings to the Trail Conference five years of previous nonprofit work, with two years’ experience in the development field. He had served as Senior Leadership Consultant to the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity at their Headquarters in Oxford, Ohio. Previously, he served as an internet marketing strategist for a multinational real estate investment corporation based in Chevy Chase, MD. Brendan is a graduate of Washington College of Maryland, where he earned his B.A. in art history. As a Beacon, NY, resident with his wife Stephanie and son Declan, the family enjoys hiking in the nearby Hudson Highlands.

Doug Senterman

Credit: Amber Ray


Doug Senterman, Catskills Program Coordinator, of Platte Clove (Elka Park) NY, joined the Trail Conference staff in 2015. In addition to bringing non-profit leadership experience to his post, Doug has had a lifetime of service as a Catskill trail volunteer under the guidance of his father, longtime Catskills Trails Chair Pete Senterman. In his role as volunteer, Doug most recently served as the Catskills Lean-to Chair; he was also the recipient of the William Hoeferlin Award for exemplary service in 2013. Doug has a Bachelor of Business degree with a major in Business Administration and minor in Project Management. He brings a variety of skills and training related to outdoor education and recreation, including extensive knowledge of the Catskills, which allows him to confidently work with the diverse groups, agencies, and individuals in the region. He is looking forward to expanding the Trail Conference’s presence in the Catskills and growing the Community Trails Program there.

Posted in Catskill Region Trail News, Darlington Trail Conference Headquarters, Profile, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Volunteers Share “Trail Magic” During Office Move

We moved into our new headquarters at the Schoolhouse in March

We moved into our new headquarters at the Darlington Schoolhouse  in March. Credit: Jeremy Apgar

Many hikers are familiar with the term “trail magic,” the serendipitous acts of kindness usually expressed toward thru-hikers. But did you know these kinds of selfless acts happen right here in the Trail Conference offices as well? It’s an incredible thing to experience! A donor or volunteer will step up from seemingly out of nowhere and offer a gift that saves the day. In fact, as an organization, we work day to day with this spirit of trust, knowing that if we are doing good work, good people will join in and support us.

That magic happened in a big way this March, when we faced the daunting task of moving our offices. Our phones began ringing off the hook with volunteers wanting to help pack, purge, clean, gather, organize, and otherwise lend a hand in any way they could. As usual, volunteers led the charge to best utilize our storage space, dismantle the library, or shop for high-efficiency appliances.

Volunteers Kevin Foster and Patricia Watson really stole the show, gladly and generously offering the exact professional expertise we needed to organize, upgrade, and relocate all of our files and systems. Patricia took ownership of combing through our archival materials, much of which hadn’t been touched since our last move out of NYC over a decade ago. Kevin was invaluable technologically and logistically as acting coordinator of all the different processes and people involved.

It all worked out—and we finally moved in to our beautiful offices at the Darlington Schoolhouse. Call it inspiration, blessing, karma, or luck, but the Trail Conference absolutely relies on it! Come visit us at our new headquarters and maybe give or receive a little magic of your own.

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From Sterling Forest to the SRT, the 2015 Conservation Corps Crews Are Improving Trails

Members of the Trail Conference’s 2015 Conservation Corps trail crews began training in May and are hard at work building and improving trails throughout the region all summer long. Here’s what they’re up to and where you can find—and join!—them on the trails this season.

Americorps members in training

Palisades Trail Crew
The AmeriCorps members of the Palisades Trail Crew—Kirsty Fuquay, Trudy Heinrichs, Kayla Hall, and Sabina Cardenas—are inviting volunteers to join them at Sterling Forest State Park. The Palisades Crew is working on the final segment of the Doris Duke Trail loop in the wilderness preserve of the same name. Thereafter, they will restore and repair existing trails, as well as build the new multi-use Eagle Mountain Trail in the southern part of the park. Field-based tread and drainage workshops will be held each month, giving attendees an in-depth understanding of the principles of drainage and erosion mitigation in the rainy Northeast.

Taconic Trail Crew
The Taconic Crew is serving in Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands state parks on The Appalachian Way Trail (a connector trail to the Appalachian Trail) and the Wilkinson Trail (the last leg of the very popular Breakneck Ridge Loop). The AmeriCorps members are Rebecca Radtke, Jake Rawdin, Matt Simonelli, and Chris Bush, whose work consists of rerouting, sidehilling, constructing stone steps and stepping stones, armoring, paving, and restoring trails. Rebecca explains, “We really dig trails, so we’re really excited to be out there improving them.”

6-7-CorpsTraining1The Megalithic Trail Crew
The Megalithic Trail Crew has six AmeriCorps members serving on the Bear Mountain Trails Project (BMTP) in 2015: Joseph Knight, Ellie Pelletier, Kevin Stamey, Jerrica Lavooy, Amanda Finley, and Michael Betros. First, they kicked off their season on the Upper East Face relocation of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) on Bear Mountain. In July, the crew will be done with 60% of the Upper East Face and out of funds for that portion of the BMTP. They will then move down to the Trails for People Interpretive Exhibit on the A.T. near the Bear Mountain Inn. The crew will finish this project by late fall, transforming an eyesore into an educational plaza.

Long Path/Shawangunk Ridge Trail Crew
The Long Path/Shawangunk Ridge Trail Spike Crew’s AmeriCorps members—Stephen Buja, Lily Hurley, Christopher Wilson, and Porter Fitch—are working on trail projects throughout Sullivan and Ulster counties in New York State. The crew lives in tents, cooks under a kitchen tarp, and hikes to the worksite each day. Project sites include: the Mine Hole Trail, where sections of this footpath flood heavily in wet seasons, making for a muddy, difficult hike; the South Gully Trail, which needs a quarter mile of sidehilling to level the trail and provide erosion control; and sections of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) south of Ferguson Road, which needs steps, sidehilling, and stepping stones or a bog bridge to manage flooding and erosion. In Huckleberry Ridge State Park, the crew hopes to extend the Lenape Ridge Trail to connect to a new parking lot and build an additional mile of the SRT. You can find the LP/SRT crew at work through July.

Invasives Strike Force
The Invasives Strike Force (ISF) Summer Crew AmeriCorps members—Shelby Timm, Cody Mendoza, Justin Dennis, and Brian Miglorino—help plan and lead the ISF Trail Crew’s volunteer work trips on weekends. They’re slated to hold over a dozen work days this summer. They also serve as the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management’s (PRISM) early detection species response team for invasive plants that are new to the area and will be dealing with several populations, such as hardy kiwi, giant hogweed, and scotch broom. The team will work in 17 parks in nine counties.

What is the Conservation Corps?
AmeriCorps members serving as part of the Trail Conference Conservation Corps receive a high-quality learning experience while performing meaningful service throughout our parks. Their extensive training includes improving trail and land quality through sustainable building and restoration solutions as members of our trail crews. Through that experience, they become leaders in recruiting, training, and retaining a diverse pool of volunteers for the Trail Conference. AmeriCorps members do not replace staff or existing volunteers, but aid and enhance our existing capacities.

Our Conservation Corps trail crews are on the trails Friday through Monday; most will be serving through mid-October. Check out the Trail Conference website for more details and info on how to join them.

Posted in Appalachian Trail, East Hudson Trails, Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails, Hikes, New trail, Sterling Forest, Trail Crew, Trails, Volunteeriing, West Hudson Trails | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maintainers: It’s Time to Submit Your Reports

Credit: Scott Lewis/

Credit: Scott Lewis/

Out trail maintainers have been checking and clipping their hiking paths since the snow (finally!) melted. Now it’s time to detail all of the hard work you’ve put into keeping your trails open and safe.

Your Trail Supervisor will be asking for your report of your donated time and efforts by June 30. You can find everything you need to submit your report here.

Please help us provide our park partners with an accurate accounting of the HUGE contributions you and all Trail Conference volunteers make to our public trails.

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Tossing Snowballs in May: Long Distance Trails Crew Explores the Ellenville Ice Caves

It’s not all work for the Long Distance Trails Crew. Members of this trail-building team recently took a holiday to the ice caves in the Shawangunks. 

By David Booth, member of the Long Distance Trails Crew
Photos by Franz Rucker and Malcolm Frouman

LDTC Ice Caves HikeThe Long Distance Trails Crew laid aside its rock bars and stowed the high line for a day to take a hike to the ice caves in the Shawangunk Mountains near Ellenville, N.Y. Thanks to organization by our own Bob Fuller and superb leadership by New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Treasurer Rick Levine, we got up close and personal with a bit of wilderness that is nothing short of a New York State treasure.  Photographer par excellence Franz Rucker was there to document it all.

We headed away from Berme Road Park and up Smiley Road on a sunny morning that was soon to become an 80 degree day. We felt warmer yet as we scrambled hand over hand, up Shingle Gully’s rock fall.

Nothing about the day’s warmth prepared us for the air conditioned breeze rising from the depths of our first ice cave. More of a canyon than a cave, we could look down from its edge into the frosty air that formed an eerie cloud where it met the warmer air above.

LDTC Ice Caves HikeDown we scrambled. At the bottom, the temperature dropped into the 30s, and vegetation changed from secondary forest to moss, lichen, and fern. The gloves went on. Ascending, of course, was a single file, hands and feet-on-the-rocks challenge. It wouldn’t have been fun any other way.

Our second ice cave came equipped for winter sports—and we took full advantage of the opportunity to throw around some snowballs. Interestingly, other ice caves we might have visited remained too clogged with ice and snow to allow safe entry.

LDTC Ice Caves Hike<a href=""><img class="aligncenter wp-image-1728 size-full" src="" alt="LDTC Ice Caves Hike" width="640" height="853" /></a>We enjoyed lunch at the edge of a cliff with a dramatic view of the fault into which we would descend next. And descend we did, with Rick coaching us on the 3 Points of Contact rule. Linda got an “A” in the course.

Our hike was a 4 or 5-miler with a “feels like 7” quality to it. At any length, this was a wonderful day. The Long Distance Trails Crew is absolutely delighted to add the ice caves to our busman’s holiday catalog.

Many more crew videos and pictures can be found on our crew page.

LDTC Ice Caves HikeIt’s back to work this weekend, June 19, 20, and 21. The Long Distance Trail Crew is relocating an eroded section of the Appalachian Trail in Bear Mountain State Park to a much more interesting piece of terrain. We have planned many more outings throughout the season as well, so please join us. No experience is necessary. We provide on-the-job training and guarantee a fun and rewarding day for volunteers at any skill level. Contact Crew Chief Chris Reyling at 914-953-4900,, or Crew Leader Bob Fuller at 732-952-2162, for more information.

Until then, our crew wishes you happy trails.

Posted in Hikes, Profile, Trail Crew, Trails, Uncategorized, Volunteeriing, West Hudson Trails | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Few, the Proud, the Tablers

By Peter Dolan, New Jersey Program Coordinator

Veteran tablers Cliff Berchtold and _________ in their natural habitat.

Veteran tabler Cliff Berchtold in his natural habitat.

How did you first find out about the Trail Conference? If you’re a member reading this article, your introduction to the organization may have been through one of our volunteer groups that receives little formal recognition, but is vital to our mission.

These unsung heroes are the “tablers”–those intrepid ambassadors of the Trail Conference who throw themselves into the unknown to talk up the masses about the joys of hiking. Armed with nothing but pamphlets, stacks of Trail Walker, and the odd fold-up display, it’s their job to attend events and represent all that we do in New York and New Jersey. They regularly brave crowds of pushy New Yorkers, precariously wobbly banner stands, and–worst of all–the peril of high winds meeting lightweight pavilions. Yet without fail our tablers are engaging and charismatic, all the better to lure in the unsuspecting public and direct them to quality hiking locations.

Because we rely on volunteers for almost everything that we do, tablers fill a vital role. They’re the ones who get the word out about our mission and sign up new members. They sell books and maps, direct people to volunteer opportunities, and answer questions. When partner organizations invite the Trail Conference to be present at an event, it’s typically the tablers who take up the call to arms.

As we continue to grow, the opportunities to be involved in events grows. If you love what we do and want a way to give back that doesn’t involve swinging trail tools, this could be just the role for you. Anyone with a love of the outdoors and a passion for people has what it takes to join the ranks of the tablers–simply get in touch and let us know!

If being a tabler sounds like your lifelong calling (or even just a good way to spend a few hours every now and then), get in touch with Volunteer Coordinator John Leigh at

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