Opening of Doris Duke Trail Celebrated with Ribbon-Cutting Hike

Text and photos by Andrea Minoff

Ribbon Cutting Hike- Doris Dike

Sona Mason, far right, led an interpretive hike on the Doris Duke Trail on Sept. 20.

The weather couldn’t have been better as a large group of enthusiastic hikers, ranging in age from the single digits to 70s-plus, and several canine companions gathered last Sunday, Sept. 20, to celebrate the opening of the new four-mile Doris Duke Trail loop at Sterling Forest State Park. After delivering brief remarks, Sona Mason, the Trail Conference’s West Hudson Program Coordinator, and Jeff Hutchinson, Sterling Forest State Park Manager, cut a blue ribbon to officially open the trail on a lovely day.

Construction on the Doris Duke Trail loop began in 2013 and was completed just a few weeks ago. This year, over 50 volunteers led by AmeriCorps members Kirsty Fuquay, Trudy Heinrichs, Sabina Cardenas, and Kayla Hall worked on the trail. Volunteers Jesse Fried, Patricio Tejada, Eugene Lee, Curtis Helt, and Tom Zafran donated their time nearly every weekend this summer to help see the project to completion, and deserve special thanks for their efforts.

AmeriCorps trail crew - Doris Duke

Dedicated volunteer John Hoekstra, center, showed off his work on the Doris Duke Trail. Mike Popadak, a former AmeriCorps member, and his brother Mark, another long-time volunteer (both at left), also came out to hike the trail they helped build.

The Doris Duke co-aligns with the Highlands and Allis trails on the ridge of Sterling Mountain, which leads to the Appalachian Trail on its way to Fitzgerald Falls. The 40 people who had gathered for the ribbon-cutting event broke into groups to hike the entire loop: Erik Mickelson, field manager of the project, led a fast-paced tour of the trail, while Mason more leisurely guided a second group. Trail-building features and techniques—details that might normally be missed by the average hiker, since the trail was designed to look as natural as possible—were described and pointed out. Several past and present AmeriCorps members and volunteers who helped build the trail proudly showed off their work along the way.

Hikers enjoyed several stops throughout the afternoon, including photo ops on the beaver dam overlook at the now-flooded Benjamin Meadow, and lunch atop Sterling Ridge, which offers a lovely panoramic view over Orange County. Farther along the ridge, the New York City skyline could be seen on the horizon.

If you’d like to volunteer to help build and improve trails in Sterling Forest State Park, contact Sona Mason at smason@nynjtc.org or 201.512.9348 x16.

About Trail Walker

Since 1920, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has partnered with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of more than 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. The Trail Conference organizes volunteer service projects that keep these trails open, safe, and enjoyable for the public. We publish maps and books that guide public use of these trails. The Trail Conference is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs with a combined membership of 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.
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