Marist College Volunteers and the Taconic Crew: Improving the Wilkinson Trail

By Jordan Foxler, AmeriCorps member of the Taconic Crew

Marist Volunteers Taconic Wilkinson Trail

Volunteers from Marist College joined the Taconic Crew for work along Wilkinson Trail. (Photo credit: Jordan Foxler)

The weekend is over, I know, and it’s only a Tuesday. But it’s never too early to start thinking about planning your Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re heading out on the trails in the East Hudson region, you may come across the Taconic Crew. On Sept. 20, we were busy hosting volunteers from Marist College. They came in abundance—30-plus volunteers!—who gave their morning to help preserve the Wilkinson Trail in Hudson Highlands State Park from further water erosion.

Taconic Crew Marist Volunteers

The crew focused on preventing further water erosion along the trail. (Photo credit: Jordan Foxler)

We focused on creating knicks, effective drains that are constructed into existing trails. For a knick to be effective, the trail tread must have lower ground next to it, so the water has a place to go. A knick is a shaved down semicircle about 3 meters (10 feet) long that is outsloped about 15 percent in the center. Knicks are smooth and subtle and should be unnoticeable to users. A lot of work has to be done with the 36 knicks that have been marked along the trail, but the volunteers were up for the task.

The morning started with a safety talk, then we made our way up the steep and eroded trail, which has been subjected to the elements over the years. Twenty minutes later we were catching our breath and splitting into groups to get to work. I led a group of seven, splitting them up to tackle two knicks that had been marked. Within the hour, we were one knick down and moving on to the next. For students who had never done trail building before, they took to it with ease, enjoying kicking up and moving dirt to create the right grade. Midday quickly rolled around, and it was time for our volunteers to head back to campus in Poughkeepsie. The successful morning saw eight knicks built and many hours saved with the fantastic help from Marist College.

We’re halfway there, with plenty of work yet to be done. If you’d like to join us, check out the Taconic Crew page for our Trail U workshop schedule and work trip dates.

Hope to see you on the trails.

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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