Crew Restores Appalachian Trail at Beechy Bottom

Long Distance Trails Crew installs steps and stepping stones in eroded trailbed

By Bob Fuller and Marty Costello, members of the Long Distance Trails Crew

The Long Distances Trails Crew has been out again, this time to restore a small section of the Appalachian Trail just south of the major relocation we completed last month.  Our task was to build steps and install large steps into a steep badly eroded gully and across the muddy stream crossing at the base of the gully.

Turning this…                                         Into this

Dillon (Crew Dog) and Chris (Crew Chief) inspect the eroded trail – Photo by Bob Fuller, LDTC Member

Dillon (Crew Dog) and Chris (Crew Chief) inspect the eroded trail – Photo by Bob Fuller, LDTC Member

Final Inspection – Photo Bob Fuller, LDTC member

Final Inspection – Photo Bob Fuller, LDTC member










This was a four-day project for the crew.  Because this project involved moving large and very heavy rocks for the stepping stones and steps, we needed to set up the highline.  We needed rocks with “lots of gravity” so that once they were properly set in place, they would stay in place.

We started work on a Friday and after determining where we wanted the highline to run, selected spar and anchor tree and set up the highline in the morning.  After lunch, we began “quarrying” large rocks of suitable size and shape, attaching slings around the rock, then lifting and moving the rock to the top of the work site using the Griphoist and lots of man (and women) power.

All of the required equipment (Griphoist, rock bars, pick-mattocks, sledge hammers, shovels) weighs close to 500 pounds.  This particular job site was just off of Beechy Bottom Road, and we were fortunate that our heavy equipment could be driven in by the park rangers.  Often it all must be carried, sometimes for several miles, to the job site.

Rock in the Air – Photo by Marty Costello, LDTC member

Rock in the Air – Photo by Marty Costello, LDTC member

First we locate a rock we want to use, lift it out of the ground with rock bars and prop it up. Then we attach a sling around the rock and a belay line on the sling. Next we slacken the highline wire so it can get close to the rock, and use a shackle to connect the sling to the block on the highline wire.  Then we call out to the Griphoist operator to “Tension Hoist,” the highline wire is pulled tight, and the rock is lifted off the ground. Once we have it high enough off the ground to move it, we call out “Hold Hoist”; this stops the lifting process and the rock is then pulled along the wire using the belay line. Once the rock gets to where we want it, we call out “Slack Hoist,” and the rock is lowered into place. This action is repeated over and over again for each rock we want moved.


Setting the First Step – Photo by Marty Costello, LDTC member

Setting the First Step – Photo by Marty Costello, LDTC member

This process of selecting rocks, preparing the bed, and placing, leveling, and setting each step continued through the three -day weekend.  During that time we also placed two very large stepping stones into place and built a treadway to provide a firm and dry trail surface leading to the stepping stones.

We finished the steps, stepping stones, and treadway and dusk was arriving late Sunday afternoon.  While the job was almost complete, and the happy crew was proud of what we had accomplished, we still had one more day of work to finish the job.


Sunday’s Happy Crew – Photo by Rich Weiler, AT Supervisor for Harriman/Bear Mountain

The crew went out during the week to finish placing stones on the sides of the steps and installing a waterbar and treadway at the top of the new steps.  Now we have built a new section of sustainable trail that should last for many decades.

This project took about 30 man days of work.  Some of us worked one day of the four, some two, some three, and a few all four.  Everyone who comes out makes a significant contribution and everyone’s efforts are appreciated.  And, most importantly, we all work safely, have a great time, and leave with a feeling of accomplishment.

Our next work trips are Nov. 22-23 and Dec. 6-7.   The crew provides hard hats and safety glasses, training, and the opportunity to learn new skills while being rewarded with the results of your day’s work.  All you need to provide is a completed Volunteer Services Agreement (see Trail Conference website), lunch and water, gloves, hard hat and safety glasses if you have them, a smile, and a desire to work hard and safely in the great outdoors.

The crew will have more outings later this fall and beyond so please join us.  Contact Crew Chief Chris Reyling 914-953-4900,, for more information.

Posted in Appalachian Trail | Tagged | 1 Comment

2-to-1 Match from Donor Will Triple Your ‘Giving Tuesday’ Gift to Trail Conference


After you fill up on home cooking and family time on Thanksgiving, and fill your shopping bags with the best of the Black Friday gift deals, you can keep the giving spirit alive during our 2014 Giving Tuesday Challenge. Giving Tuesday is a day for giving back.  On Tuesday, December 2, 2014 communities around the world will come together to support the work of local charities like the Trail Conference.

Increase Your Impact by Giving Tuesday to Tuesday to the Trail Conference

We want to engage as many outdoor enthusiasts as we can, so our challenge will last for a full eight days from November 25 through December 2.  Thanks to a generous pledge from an anonymous donor, all gifts made during these eight days will be matched 2-to-1.  That means, when you give $50 toward the challenge, your gift will be matched with $100.

This year, we challenge our friends to support their local trails by making a contribution toward any one of our four Trail Conference regions: New Jersey, East Hudson, West Hudson, Catskills.

Be sure to visit our Giving Tuesday page starting next Tuesday, November 25 to make your contribution and then use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to let everyone know why you support the Trail Conference.

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Newly Built Doris Duke Trail Celebrated with Interpretive Hike

By Sona Mason, West Hudson Program Coordinator

Hikers on the Doris Duke Trail

Some of the hikers who explored the new Doris Duke Trail at Sterling Forest with Trail Conference staff and volunteers.

The cool, crisp, sunny afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 8, saw 25 people from all walks of life hiking the newly completed section of the Doris Duke Trail in Sterling Forest State Park. This trail, commissioned by New York State Parks in 2013 and built by volunteers of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, now links up with two of the oldest trails in the region: the Allis Trail and the Appalachian Trail.

En route, the Trail Conference’s West Hudson Program Coordinator Sona Mason, West Hudson South Trails Chair John Mack, and volunteer Janet Setter explained how trails are built and maintained and detailed why the land over which they cross must be conserved and protected. From the Doris Duke, the group continued south on the Allis Trail along the Sterling Ridge, which offers spectacular views across the valley—some of which may be marred by the rooftops of the Genting Group’s proposed $1.5 billion Sterling Forest Resort casino, if it is approved. Friends of Sterling Forest leader Doc Bayne also supplied a wealth of natural and local history along the way, creating a three-hour journey of discovery for all.

Participants included members of the Friends of Sterling Forest, the Trail Conference, the No Tuxedo Casino group, local residents, and hikers.

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Volunteers: It’s Time to Submit Your Seasonal Trail Accomplishments

By John Leigh, Volunteer Coordinator

Autumn Volunteers

Volunteers: Help us document all of the great work you do.

Attention all volunteers!

What a year 2014 has been for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. We recorded the most hours ever in 2013—over 77,000—and are on track to go even further in 2014. In addition, sections of new trails are being opened, exciting projects are beginning, and new volunteers are being brought into the fold.

The bi-annual reporting season has begun, and we need your help to record all of the great work we did so far this year. Two times a year, we ask all volunteers to submit their hours. These hours are then recorded and reported to our various partners, including state and local agencies.

If you are a trail maintainer, please report your hours using this form, and then send it to your supervisor.

If you are an off-trail volunteer, please submit your hours using this web form.

For deadlines and more information about these forms, please contact your supervisor or committee chair.

Once again, thank you for all you do to help protect the trails.

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Catskill Conservation Corps Expands Outdoor Volunteer Opportunities in the Catskills

By Jeff Senterman, Director of Catskill Conservation Corps & Trail Conference Senior Program Coordinator

Catskill Conservation Corps logoSince its launch in June, the Catskill Conservation Corps (CCC) has been hard at work bettering the outdoor experience in the Catskill Mountains. The CCC is a partnership between the Trail Conference and the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that provides volunteer opportunities to the public on projects that protect natural resources and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in the Catskills while helping the DEC manage volunteers throughout the region.

The CCC website and presence on Facebook and Twitter were quickly established to help spread the word. (Six press releases have also been generated since June to promote the Corps.) The CCC’s first workshop focused on volunteer leadership training. Work trips tackled trail building at the future site of the Catskill Interpretive Center and litter cleanup at Kaaterskill Falls and along Route 23A in Kaaterskill Clove. An appreciation picnic was held for all Catskill volunteers in October; at the event, we were able to thank many people for their service to trails, lean-tos, and the natural and recreational resources of the Catskill Mountains.

CCC Kaaterskill litter cleanup

CCC volunteers cleared litter at Kaaterskill Falls and along Route 23A in Kaaterskill Clove. (Photo credit: Georgette Weir)

The CCC is working closely with the DEC to develop and prioritize future workshops and work trips to ensure a steady stream of opportunities and training for volunteers in the region. It is our hope that the CCC will increase its support of all volunteer activities on state lands in the Catskills, including the work of the Trail Conference and others, such as the Catskill Center’s Fire Tower Steward Program. The CCC provides an opportunity for all organizations who have a volunteer agreement with the DEC to promote their activities and inform the public about the many ways that volunteers support natural and recreational resources in the Catskill Mountains.

Since launching the Corps, we have heard from dozens of new volunteers through the CCC website and outreach events. These volunteers have participated in everything from trail crew work with the Trail Conference, to Fire Tower stewardship opportunities, to invasive species work. Even more people have asked to be kept up to date with what the CCC is doing in the Catskills.

Catskills Volunteer Appreciation Picnic

Catskill volunteers were thanked for their hard work and dedication with an appreciation picnic in October. (Photo credit: Georgette Weir)

Thanks to the DEC contract that created the CCC, the Trail Conference has been able to expand its staff in the Catskills. We have hired a new Catskills Assistant Program Coordinator, Heather Rolland, whose job is to assist in the day-to-day operations of the CCC and better support our existing volunteers in the Catskills. In 2015 we look forward to moving into a new, dedicated office space for our staff to further support the Trail Conference’s Catskills Community Trails Program and the CCC.

Catskill Conservation Corps Director Jeff Senterman has been working with a number of partners and other organizations to make the CCC a success. He was most recently on radio station WIOX during their Catskill Chronicle program discussing the CCC and reaching out to the public to get involved.

If you’d like to learn more about the Catskill Conservation Corps and be contacted about volunteer opportunities and news throughout the Catskills, please visit and submit the form with your information. We will be in touch shortly afterwards with the info you request and will add you to the electronic mailing list for CCC updates.

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2014 Fall Sale Preview


Get the best deals of the season from Nov. 10-16

The second of our two annual sales starts Monday, Nov. 10. For seven days, members and supporters of the Trail Conference will enjoy site-wide savings, including 35% off Trail Conference-published maps and extra discounts on select promotional combos. Here are some of the deals:

50 Hikes in New Jersey Combo
Perfect for your adventures in the beautiful Garden State, the 50 Hikes in New Jersey Combo includes the 50 Hikes in New Jersey book, the North Jersey map set, the Hudson Palisades map set, the Kittatinny map set, and the Jersey Highlands map set.

50 Hikes in New York Combo
Whether you’re hiking in the popular Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks or on any of our other high-quality trails in the Empire State, the 50 Hikes in New York Combo gets you where you want to go. The pack includes: the 50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley book, the Catskills map set, the Harriman-Bear Mountain map set, the Sterling Forest map set, the West Hudson map set, the East Hudson map set, and the Shawangunk map set.

Catskills Combo
Navigate through one of the last remaining backcountry wilderness areas in New York State with the Catskills Combo, which includes the ADK Catskill Trails book and the Catskills map set.

Hike of the Week Combo
Find a new hike for every week of the year with the Hike of the Week Combo, which includes the Hike of the Week book, plus the following 10 Trail Conference maps:

Catskill Trails
East Hudson Trails
Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails
Hudson Palisades Trails
Kittatinny Trails
Jersey Highlands Trails
North Jersey Trails
Shawangunk Trails
Sterling Forest Trails
West Hudson Trails

10-Map Combo
Get the best of all of our regions with the 10-Map Combo, which includes the following maps:

Catskill Trails
East Hudson Trails
Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails
Hudson Palisades Trails
Kittatinny Trails
Jersey Highlands Trails
North Jersey Trails
Shawangunk Trails
Sterling Forest Trails
West Hudson Trails

Take advantage of the interstate proximities of the Harriman-Bear Mountain map set, the North Jersey map set, and the Sterling Forest map set as you plan your next hike.

Visit our sale page to learn more.

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Manhattan’s Paragon Sports Gives Back to Trails

By Jennis Watson, Trail Conference Membership and Development Manager

Facebook_Yow2014_1 (3)

On Sept. 27, Paragon Sports and Marmot hosted the 2nd annual Race the City Your Own Way (YOW).  YOW combined a traditional scavenger hunt with a social media blitz by challenging participants to test their knowledge of Manhattan and post selfies in front of 10 landmarks while donning an exclusive Marmot tech-tee. The race day hashtag was #YOW. Landmarks were located between 110th Street and Lower Manhattan, and the winners were those contestants who returned fastest to Paragon Sports at 867 Broadway after tagging all the scavenger hunt locations.

According to Olivia Cheng, Paragon Sports’ events and social media manager, the company wanted to create an event that was unique in its inclusion of different sports cultures. Participants in YOW ranged from hikers to bikers to skateboarders and more. The purpose of the race was to show New Yorkers that they are part of nature, not separated from it. Participants trekked through Central Park and other natural areas, and many happy racers admitted, “Wow, I’ve been in New York all my life, but have never seen these landmarks,” says Cheng.

In preparation for the event, Paragon Sports planned to set aside a portion of the race registration fees to donate to a local nonprofit. They chose the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference because they see and appreciate our mission to connect people with nature and our efforts to make a positive change for the natural landscape that surrounds us all. The partnership between Paragon Sports and the Trail Conference shows New Yorkers that “Paragon is in central Manhattan, but [a partnership with the Trail Conference] allows people to make a connection between New York and nature.”

The Trail Conference thanks Paragon Sports, Marmot, and the YOW racers for contributing $1,385 to support our trails and volunteers!

About Paragon Sports
Paragon Sports is known by athletes and adventurers across the globe as New York City’s finest sports specialty store. Paragon has been located in NYC’s Union Square since 1908.

About Marmot Inc.
Since 1974, Marmot has been committed to designing the highest quality performance clothing and equipment.

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