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, chrisreyling@gmail.com, or Crew Leader Bob Fuller at 732-952-2162, refuller99@hotmail.com for more information.

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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7 Responses to Long Distance Trails Crew Kicks Off Trail-Building Season

  1. don uebel says:

    why? steps and bridging over stream and brooks, in my mind are intrusive into the natural beauty; what’s next? am i wrong? don u.

    • Adam says:

      This is a high traffic section of trail on Bear Mountain. The section of trail that is being replaced is extremely eroded due to foot traffic. If a trail is badly eroded or flooded hikers will walk off the trail and cause even more damage. A properly built trail helps preserve the natural beauty of everything around it.

      • don uebel says:

        I understand. I live near the end of johnsontown road and I have noticed a large increase in the numbers of hikers the past few years; many go off the trails and pop-up in back yards, cause dogs to bark, park wherever they choose to, just walk stoney brook, spook the wildlife and are an annoyance. However, most are fine and respectful of the park and private property; but just their presence in the woods moves the animals out of their normal routine.

        I dread the weekends

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