Help Beautify Trails on I Love My Park Day

I Love My Park Day

I Love My Park Day is this Saturday, May 2.

Join us in beautifying our trails on I Love My Park Day this Saturday, May 2!

The Trail Conference and our member clubs are hosting several events to help celebrate, improve, and enhance parks in our region. Sign up now!

Invasive Species Removal at Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
The Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force trail crew has its first outing of 2015 on I Love My Park Day, assisting the Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct in the removal of invasive vines and shrubs and planting of native plants. More info.

Mossy Glen & Blueberry Run trail cleanup, Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Help our West Hudson North crew build bog-bridging on the beautiful Mossy Glen Trail, or join us for a little spring cleaning along the Blueberry Run. Refreshments, free souvenir tees, and tools and training supplied! More info.

Vine Cutting in FDR State Park, Westchester County, NY
Join the Friends of FDR State Park in cutting vines, planting flowers, and assembling picnic tables. More info.

Cache In, Trash Out at FDR State Park, Westchester County, NY
Help the Friends of FDR State Park clean up the southern area of the park. There is an abundance of large items that need to be moved to where the park staff can haul them away. More info.

Posted in East Hudson Trails, Invasive species, Trails, Uncategorized, Volunteeriing, West Hudson Trails | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Volunteers Begin Work on Highlands Trail Relocation

By Sona Mason, West Hudson Program Coordinator

Highlands Trail Chester Snowshoe

The first hike to blaze the new section of the Highlands Trail off a public road and onto new land recently preserved by the Open Space Institute took place on February 21. (Photo credit: Sona Mason)

The relocation of the Highlands Trail in Chester, New York, is underway, thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

The work began in February, when neither cold nor sleet nor deep snow stayed a group hardy of hikers from completing their mission: to traverse and blaze the newest section of the HT. Well, no sleet—just soft, deep, snow-shoeing snow. And a lot of smiles to be had. The reason: It was the first hike to blaze the new section of the Highlands Trail off a public road and onto new land recently preserved by the Open Space Institute (OSI). OSI was mandated to have this parcel open to the public before March, and these volunteers helped to ensure that happened.

Highlands Trail Chester Clearing

Volunteers were out again on April 26 to begin clearing the first part of the relocation, off Bull Mill Road. (Photo credit: Sona Mason)

A group was out again on April 26 to begin clearing the first part of the relocation, off Bull Mill Road. The goal is to create a sustainable new trail to link up with Goose Pond Mountain State Park, and the volunteers made huge progress on this trip, using hand tools and the Weed Wrench to bust through a blockade of invasive Japanese barberry and multiflora rose shrubs, clearing a 6-8-feet wide corridor along the edge of a turnpike above Trout Brook.

In honor of Earth Week, the trail-clearing crew made good use of found material and recycled half-buried soil fencing into a weed barrier for the trail tread (conveniently 2-feet wide). They also shuttled about 150—or so it seemed!—wheelbarrows full of wood chips to cover the weed barrier, creating a plush chestnut carpet of trail tread to stall regrowth of invasive weeds and ensure maintaining the trail will be a breeze.

The next work trip is scheduled for May 9. This section will be easier and faster going with fewer weeds. The work will include removing invasive shrubs to a depth of about 3-4 feet on either side of the trail, and laying the rest of the soil fencing down and covering it with wood chips.

Future work trips will be posted soon, and will involve more technical aspects of trail-building, such as side-hilling and wetland & stream crossings. If you would like more information or want to be on our mailing list, please contact West Hudson Program Coordinator Sona Mason: or 201.512.9348 x16.

Posted in Hikes, New trail, Trails, Uncategorized, Volunteeriing, West Hudson Trails | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Long Distance Trails Crew Kicks Off Trail-Building Season

Crew Starts Appalachian Trail Relocation at Bear Mountain

Text by Bob Fuller; pictures by Marty Costello, members of the Long Distance Trails Crew


Sometimes we stabilize rocks by lifting them up (in this case, with a house jack) and then building a supporting crib wall underneath.

After a winter of fun crew outings—including hikes, snowshoeing, and a New Year’s Eve party—the Long Distance Trails Crew (LDTC) has begun its trail-building season. On March 27, we met for the first of many weekends needed to relocate a 1/4-mile section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) at Bear Mountain. The current route leaves from Seven Lakes Drive just east of the hikers’ parking area and begins climbing up a badly eroded gully with lots of loose rocks. Just parallel to this path is the equally eroded previous route. The crew, working with all the necessary agencies, designed a new route that goes up through the nearby cliffs and will provide a much more interesting and sustainable route. Of course, building a trail up the cliffs will require “moving the mountain,” as one hiker noted while watching the work in progress.

“Moving the mountain” means building crib walls and steps to provide a graded trail as the new route climbs those cliffs, passing over and under ledges and through crevices. Building this trail will be challenging, exciting, fun, and rewarding for this crew of volunteers who come out to help with the work. Much of the construction involves moving large rocks, so we are using a high line (overhead cable system) to “fly” rocks to where they are needed. We creatively designed the trail to ensure it is not only sustainable but aesthetically pleasing as it blends into the landscape.

LDTC at work

Other times we shape rocks (here we are splitting a rock into two steps by drilling holes, inserting feathers, and hammering wedges).

LDTC crib wall

And, of course, other times we simply have to move rocks—and lots of them—to fill in the treadway formed by our new crib wall.

LDTC high line

After just two weekends of work, we have the start of the new trail. Here, in a picture taken 30 feet above the ground from our high line spar tree, you can see the top of the new crib walls, crushed rock fill, dirt treadway, and steps as we wind our way up through the cliffs.

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

We’re on the trail this weekend, April 24-26, and will have more outings throughout the season, 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.

Posted in Appalachian Trail, Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails, Hikes, New trail, Profile, Trails, Uncategorized, Volunteeriing, West Hudson Trails | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Kay Cynamon, South Taconic Trails Map Project

Kay Cynamon

Kay Cynamon served as project manager for the latest edition of the South Taconic Trails map. She also GPSed more than 100 miles of marked trails for the project.

Kay Cynamon doesn’t exactly see the “work” in all of the volunteer work she’s done for the Trail Conference. “I just like loping around outside,” says the Manhattan-based physician, who’s been a Trail Conference member for over 20 years. “If I can be helpful and it serves a purpose to carry a GPS, that’s even better.”

Over the last two years, Cynamon and her GPS hiked and recorded the locations of more than 100 miles of marked trails in the South Taconic Mountains; thanks to her efforts, hikers can soon own the latest, greatest edition of the Trail Conference’s South Taconic Trails map. “The hiking itself is not hard,” Cynamon says. “The only hard thing for me is travleing 100-150 miles to get there!” (She’s looking forward to the day cars drive themselves, she explains.)

Cynamon began volunteering in the South Taconic region as an accidental maintainer. About 15 years ago, she took a hike up Alander Mountain through overgrown trails. She wrote to the Trail Conference about the problem, and received a response asking if she’d like to help fix the situation by becoming a maintainer. “I figured since I’d mouthed off I should say yes,” Cynamon recalls. “Gradually, I adopted about six miles of trails up there, which is kind of ridiculous for a volunteer,” she laughs.

Off the trails, Cynamon served as the South Taconic map’s project manager and researcher. “I get so much enjoyment out of hiking and being outdoors, and everything about it,” Cynamon says. “The opportunity to give back so other people can enjoy these trails makes me very happy.”

You’ll be able to find that enthusiasm in her next project with the Publications Committee: a trails guidebook to Morris County, NJ.

The South Taconic Trails map is now available for pre-order.

If you’re inspired by Kay’s story and would like to become a trail maintainer or volunteer with our Publications Committee on projects involving maps and books printed by the Trail Conference, get in touch!

Posted in Profile, Trails, Uncategorized, Volunteeriing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trail Conference Unveils New Multiuse Trail

Paved Trail

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is proud to announce the completion of a new low-maintenance, multiuse trail.

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is pleased to announce the acquisition of a hard-won parcel of land that allowed us to complete an important section of trail that we had been fighting to expand and protect for decades. It is anticipated to be one of the most popular sections of trail in New York.

This new trail is a true multiuse path, encouraging hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and ATV enthusiasts alike to explore the outdoors. The occasional skateboarder may even take advantage of the trail’s beautiful paved stone.

Trail features include a WiFi hotspot and a Starbucks coffee cart—with charging station—located every one-tenth mile along the path.

The trail was built to withstand heavy use by recreation-seekers. Thanks to its low-maintenance construction, there is no need for a trail maintainer on this stretch of path. Instead, the Trail Conference has enlisted 100 full-time volunteers to pick up after people’s dogs. If you’d like to join our newly formed Poop Scoop Patrol, please get in touch.

And if you’d like to learn more about how the Trail Conference really connects people with nature, please visit our website. Happy April Fools’ Day!

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Introducing the Long Path Race Series

New race series along New York’s Long Path helps to highlight and support the work of the Trail Conference

By Kenneth Posner, Long Path Race Series Founder

Long Path Trail Marker

The Long Path Race Series will include six races in 2015, beginning with Rock The River on May 3 in the Palisades. (Photo credit: Karl M. Soehnlein)

The Long Path Race Series is designed to promote this magnificent trail and the good work of the Trail Conference and its volunteers and to encourage further land and trail stewardship.

First conceived by the Trail Conference in the 1930s, the Long Path has been developed and blazed over the years and today is maintained by volunteers for whom it is a labor of love. The Long Path is not as well-known as other long distance trails such as Vermont’s Long Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail, or the Appalachian Trail, and it deserves a higher profile. The Long Path links New York City with the Helderberg Escarpment west of Albany, and along its meandering 350-mile length, passes through some of New York’s most spectacular natural areas, including the Hudson Palisades, Harriman State Park, the Shawangunk Mountains, and the Catskills. Hike or run along the Long Path, and you’re in for a distinctive, beautiful, rugged, and amazing experience.

Long Path Race Series

The series also includes the SRT Run/Hike, which gives participants a chance to run or hike the entire 74-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail. (Photo credit: Tom Bushey Photography)

For 2015, the series will include six races, beginning with Rock The River on May 3. Organized by the Palisades Park Conservancy, this event benefits the Trail Conference, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and the trails. It features 5k and half-marathon road races and a 6k trail race suitable for walkers as well as runners. Early-bird pricing ends April 1; registration is open through race day. Proceeds benefit the work of the Trail Conference in the Palisades.

The series also includes the SRT Run/Hike, which gives participants a chance to run or hike the entire 74-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail from High Point State Park in New Jersey all the way to the town of Rosendale, New York (or you can opt for shorter 50, 32, or 20-mile distances).

Persons who register for the series will accumulate points for each event they complete. (It’s not required to participate in all six). Those who accrue the highest point totals will be recognized as “disciples of the Long Brown Path.” There is a nominal $15 registration fee to participate in the series (this helps offset administrative costs) which is separate from the registration fees for each of the six series events.

Of note, nature lovers should not worry that the Long Path will soon be overridden by hordes of crazed trail runners. In developing trail events, we work closely with the parks and preserves to ensure that we are not causing congestion, damaging trails or ecologically sensitive areas, or hogging the limited supply of parking spots. As long as we’re all courteous, there should be plenty of room for both hikers and runners out there. (Let’s all work together to keep out the ATVs.) Register for the Long Path Series for a year of fun and excitement!

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How Muddy Are Your Trails?

By Erik Mickelson, Field Manager

Muddy Trail

Photo credit: Flickr/Mr.TInDC

Can you predict how muddy your favorite trails will be this spring? In a way, yes.

The Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) can be useful as a gauge for estimating the water from snow melt onto trails, since snow melt is analogous to a rain event. The SWE “is the amount of water contained within the snowpack…as the depth of water that would theoretically result if you melted the entire snowpack instantaneously,” explains the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In the winter these melt (or rain) events can make for soggy trails–assuming it all melts “instantaneously.”

Water trapped in frozen soils holding autumn rains and freeze/thaw event moisture may add to the SWE flows unleashed during snow melt. If the soil was near its water holding capacity (field capacity) at freezing, or between SWEs, there’s a good chance the trails could be wetter than anticipated from snow melt alone.

Northeast SWE

Snow Water Equivalent Map, February 2015

So how long will you be slogging through mud? The rate trails dry after rain is a function of many factors. Other than grades, outslope, and trail soil profiles, two factors that help dry trails are evaporation and transpiration from plants. The two together are called evapotranspiration, or ET. ET rates from late fall to spring are low, while SWE flows can by high, making for muddier trails.

If you decide to get out on the trails this spring, take a mental note of the good and bad trails after rain events–and save the wet ones for later.

Want to learn more? Check out this interactive SWE map and zoom in on your location.

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