By Sona Mason, West Hudson Program Coordinator
The four-mile Doris Duke Trail Loop at Sterling Forest State Park in Orange County, N.Y., is open! It is the first of many new trails and improvements planned for Sterling Forest, which intends to provide up to 70 miles of trails under a plan that aims to create “an integrated, year-round trail system for a diversity of trail users.” The new Doris Duke loop, which includes a section of the Allis Trail, was completed as part of the Sterling Forest Back Country Trails program, a partnership between the Trail Conference and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.
Work on the creation of this loop began shortly after New York State acquired the property in 1998. The first draft of a trails plan came early in 2000, and a final draft was implemented in 2009. Trail building on the Doris Duke Trail began in 2013. This September, four AmeriCorps members leading the Trail Conference’s Palisades Trail Crew finished the trail with the help of many volunteers. The new hiking path is a model of modern sustainable trail-building techniques, showcasing bench-cut construction, stepping stone crossings, rock stairs, and other structures to harden the tread. For much of its length–where sustainable–little work beyond brush removal was necessary at all: There are simply blazes on trees to keep hikers on track.
The opening of the Doris Duke Trail Loop will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting this Sunday, September 20, as part of the Hudson River Valley Ramble. It will be followed by an interpretive hike—and trail run, for the speedy-types—of the entire loop, which encompasses flats and hills, ridgetop views, enormous erratics and plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities through the Doris Duke Wildlife Sanctuary.
If you’d like to get involved in building and improving trails in Sterling Forest, contact West Hudson Program Coordinator Sona Mason: firstname.lastname@example.org; 201.512.9348 x16.