Trails Progress Report: 2015 Look Back // 2016 Look Ahead

Trail Conference volunteers and staff are working to bring hikers and walkers the best trails possible in New York and New Jersey and to protect and preserve the surrounding lands.

      • Caring for over 2,100 miles of trails in 22 counties and counting!
      • Managing 1,777* volunteers and growing!
      • Generating 100,000 hours (valued at $2,636,000) of donated volunteer time and increasing! 

Wherever and whenever you're in the area, you can find miles of trails and thousands of acres to enjoy.

 

See some of what our staff and volunteers accomplished this year:

 New Jersey Region

New Jersey Trails

2015 Look Back

2015 had a packed Trail Crew outing calendar, with 18 events hosted by West Jersey Trail Crew, 10 by Ramapo Earth Crew, and 2 more by the Long Distances Crew visiting from New York. In all, volunteers donated hundreds of hours to improve trails all over New Jersey. Highlights include work on the Cedar Swamp boardwalk, Appalachian Trail “Stairway to Heaven,” a new Franklin Lakes trail system, and a historic National Public Lands Day in the Delaware Water Gap. A three-year battle by the Trail Conference and other organizations to protect the Hudson River Palisades from a proposed 143-foot LG Electronics headquarters ended with a successful settlement. We also focused on strengthening our bonds with the National Park Service in the Delaware Water Gap,  to improve our partnerships and volunteer outreach in western New Jersey. The Trail Conference maintains 682 miles of trails throughout New Jersey! 

2016 Look Ahead

  • Promote, protect, and improve the long-distance Highlands Trail, New Jersey’s Millennium Legacy Trail. Develop workshops, volunteer outings, and events to draw attention to this nearby, under-utilized hiking treasure.
  • Expand Trail Conference presence and recruitment everywhere we maintain trails. 
 

Help us to continue improving trails by making a gift.

 East Hudson Region

East Hudson Trails

2015 Look Back

We're working in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and Columbia counties and the five NYC boroughs to maintain, build, and improve trails and open space. In 2015, the Round Hill Bypass trail in Fahnestock State Park was completed as was a 6.5-mile extension  to the South Taconic Trail, linking the south end of the existing trail to Rudd Pond and Shagroy road. Three new trails totaling 4 miles were built in Dover Stone Church Preserve. Our Taconic Conservation Corps Trail Crew completed the re-building of the entire 3-mile Appalachian Trail Connector by Canopus Lake in Fahnestock State Park. Construction began for the first sections of new Highlands Trail to connect Hudson Highlands and Fahnestock state parks.  We engaged young volunteers through Eagle Scouts and civic internship projects to enhance trails throughout the East Hudson region. Our Trail Stewards continued to improve the hiking experience at Breakneck Ridge, counting and/or assisting over 30,000 hikers between Memorial Day Weekend and Columbus Day. The Trail Conference maintains 479 miles of trails in East Hudson! 

2016 Look Ahead

  • Expand and recruit a dedicated Hudson Highlands roving trail crew.
  • Collaborate with NYC Parks to recruit volunteers and offer technical assistance and documentation with trail maintenance projects.
 

Help us serve more in 2016!

 West Hudson Region

West Hudson Trails

2015 Look Back

We are advocating for and maintaining all your favorite hiking trails in Harriman-Bear Mountain, Minnewaska, Schunnemunk, Storm King, and other state parks and preserves in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. This year we constructed 2.5 miles of new trails, connecting a DEC trailhead parking lot to the Shawangunk Ridge Trail in Huckleberry Ridge State Forest. In Chester, NY, a new section of the Highlands Trail was built by local volunteers and groups, re-routing 1.5 miles of the trail off a road walk. The Long Distance Trails Crew rerouted an eroded portion of the AT on the south side of Bear Mountain, installing rock steps and cribbing. The West Hudson North Crew continued installing bog bridging across the Mossy Glen Trail and rerouted a portion of the scenic trail at Black Rock Forest. The Palisades Crew completed the 3.9-mile Doris Duke Loop in Sterling Forest. The West Hudson South Crew replaced a bridge in southern Harriman State Park that had been taken out by Hurricane Irene. We finished 498 feet of the Upper East Face of the Appalachian Trail, bringing the project to 60% of completion. We also wrapped up construction of the Trails for People Exhibit at the base of Bear Mountain on the Appalachian Trail. In 2015, volunteers donated over 10,600 hours! The Trail Conference maintains 620 miles of trails in West Hudson! 

2016 Look Ahead

  • Collaborate in a Trails Town event along south-western boundary of Harriman, attracting eco-tourism and highlighting improved trail access via mass transit.
  • Develop a Bear Mountain Stewards program.
  • Create a new trail loop in Sterling Forest’s recently preserved “donut hole.”
 

Help us continue this stride with a gift today!

Catskill Mountains Region

Catskills Trails

2015 Look Back

Our Catskill Conservation Corps has grown and continues to welcome volunteers to work on projects that protect natural resources and enhance outdoor recreation.  The Catskill Interpretive Center opened midsummer, hosting Trail Conference staff 2 days a week and providing visitors with information on all the region has to offer.  We are working with Woodchuck Lodge to create family-friendly trails on their property in Roxbury, NY. The community trails program is working with the Town of Bethel to create a trail system on the Reserve at Smallwood, including ADA-compliant trails and many family-friendly options.  2015 saw great success with our first year of Summit Stewards stationed atop Slide Mountain. This program has been successful in helping hikers and promoting responsible practices and preservation on the highest and busiest mountain! The Trail Conference maintains 351 miles of trails in the Catskills. 

2016 Look Ahead

  • Re-build German Hollow lean-to, which was crushed by fallen trees. 
  • Expand Summit Stewards program to other popular destinations in the Catskills. 
 

Please give now!

 Invasive Species Programs

Invasives Strike Force

2015 Look Back

Invasives Strike Force (ISF) volunteer surveyors surpassed a huge milestone in 2015 by topping 1,000 miles of trails surveyed for invasive species. The ISF summer crew led more than a dozen volunteer workdays to remove invasive plants. ISF participants removed more than 50,000 invasive plants from over 20 parks, preserves, and partner properties, impacting over 100-acres of land. The crew continued efforts to control the spread of high priority and emerging invaders. We collaborated on projects with many partners and led the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) to prioritize invasive species work, education, and outreach.

2016 Look Ahead

  • Ramp up invasives removal efforts by increasing summer crew service periods, engaging more volunteers and streamlining data collection and processing.
  • Lead the Lower Hudson PRISM to aggressively target priority areas and species.
 

Help us keep the momentum going!

Cartography and Publications

2015 Look Back

Produced new print and digital editions of four maps sets: Catskill, Harriman-Bear Mountain, South Taconic, and West HudsonCompleted and launched the brand new Circuit Hikes in Harriman book. Produced 15 new northern New Jersey state park maps, made available as free handouts at parks, as downloads on our website, and through the PDF Maps app.


2016 Look Ahead

  • Develop a new map set covering the entirety of the Long Path.
  • Produce revised editions of Jersey Highlands, Kittatinny, Sterling Forest, and Shawangunk map sets.
 

Bear Mountain

2015 Look Back

Completed approximately 500 highly labor-intensive feet of Upper East Face of the Appalachian Trail, reaching 60 percent completion. Finished construction of Trails for People Exhibit at base of Bear Mountain on the A.T. Provided over 10,600 volunteer hours of labor


 

2016 Look Ahead

  • Extend progress on the remaining 1,145 feet and 325 stone stairs of the A.T. on the Upper East Face. Complete all work by fall 2017.
 

*Includes off-trail volunteers.

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