“Why aren’t we just following that deer path, Andrew?”
The deer route looked ready-made for hikers: leaves packed down, mostly free of low-growing blueberry shrubs and downed branches. But, Andrew Seirup explained, the deer didn’t go where hikers would want to go, and anyway, their path soon petered out. “We need to head up,” he said, pointing in the direction of a tangle of downed branches and thick shrubs.
He had already made his way through the tangle, planting little orange flags to mark the intended route. “Sometimes, you have to use your imagination,” Andrew declared.
And so our trail crew of six slowly picked its way along the wooded, shrubby hillside—uprooting, sawing, or clipping shrubs; tossing branches; raking a defined path—painstakingly clearing the chosen route.
The April 26 work trip was the first in what is expected to be a multi-year project to clear a new 6-mile extension of the South Taconic Trail in northeastern Dutchess County. The extension will create a connection from the state park and campground at Rudd Pond, just north of the village of Millerton, to the extensive trail network on the Taconic Ridge, where hikers can bag three states—New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—with a single day hike. [A new, updated and expanded edition of our South Taconic Trails map, last published in 2006, is to be published later this year. It will show the trail extension to Rudd Pond, as well as other nearby trails.]
A dedicated team of volunteers had laid out the trail extension over the course of three years of scouting, bushwhacking, and working with state park officials, who have been enthusiastic supporters of the project.
The Trail Conference route planning team included Andrew, East Hudson Trails Chair, Claudia Farb, South Taconic Region Trails Supervisor, and Christopher Leonard, a maintainer on the South Taconic Trail.
Joining Andrew on the inaugural trail work outing were Sue Rangeley and Michael Schenker, nearby homeowners and hikers who say they spend much of their time on trails in the Taconics and wanted give something back to trails; Joanna Seirup (Andrew’s niece) and Charles Drake of Tarrytown, frequent hikers and backpackers for whom this was a first trail work trip; and Georgette Weir, a Trail Conference staff member who thinks the views from the Taconic Ridge are among the best in the Trail Conference region.
At the end of Day One, the crew hiked back to their cars along a quarter-mile section of new trail.
New volunteers are welcome on future work trips; Andrew hopes to schedule about one a month. Check our website for scheduled trips: nynjtc.org/view/trail-crew-outings. Learn more about the project at nynjtc.org/content/south-taconic-trail-extension
–by Georgette Weir