Bear Mountain Trail Crew Updates and Stories


October 13, 2015


Bear Mountain Megalithic Trail Crew

It is a bittersweet goodbye to and from the 2015 AmeriCorps crews today. We are all so proud of everything that we have accomplished over the course of the season, and happy to have met and worked with all the amazing people that have helped to make these projects come alive. Even though we were unable to receive the wood and signage for the Trails for People Project at Bear before our season finished, the transformation has been unbelievable! (VIEW THE PROGRESS - CLICK HERE!) 

It is a good feeling getting to see the park visitors captivated as they walk by with what we have done. Not to mention that our section of stairs on the Upper East Face is a work of art! The trail crews not only construct the paths for hikers, but also spread appreciaton and conservation efforts to all those who use the trails we build. The NYNJTC takes pride in everything they do, and a lot of that has to do with the volunteers who come out and make the visions of our amazing program managers possible. This program has been an invaluable experience, with both education and fond memories that will never be forgotten!

 Trails for People Bear Mountain  Trails for People Bear Mountain

October 1, 2015

Wait....  it's October!?!?
We have some of the best volunteers we could ever ask for! The turnout for National Public Lands Day was amazing, and each volunteer exceeded our expectations. It is an awesome thing to see people come together and work so hard to make our project beautiful. We are so thankful that we have the support of an amazing organization like REI to put together and sponsor such a great event. There are now 1,320 plants and trees beautifying Trails for People. The amount of work that it took to get each one strategically planted was a big task, but it was executed perfectly by our NPL Day volunteers and a staff group from IBM. This one aspect has completely transformed the site, and each park visitor that passes by can't help but stop and stare. It is hard to believe that our AmeriCorps crew only has 7 more days out in the field on this project. We could not have gotten this far without so much loyal support. Now it is time to tie up as many loose ends as possible... the cold autumn winds are blowing in!!
Bear Mountain Trails for People Project  Bear Mountain Trails for People Project
Bear Mountain Trails for People Project  Bear Mountain Trails for People Project
Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

September 24, 2015

Can you see how much it is all coming together!? The finish of the wall and stepstyle is now in sight! The grading around the Spider Hill House is almost done and we are getting ready for soil and plants! The site is even getting close to being ready for signs. We have been very lucky to have the help of the Appalachain Trail Conservancy crew the past couple weeks. These dedicated volunteers give there services for weeks at a time, living and working right along side us AmeriCorps crews! We are so happy to have some returning familiar faces who are more than a pleasure to work with. Pat and Neil are a couple of the NYNJTC's most beloved volunteers! As time is winding down, the checklist of to-do's is making progress and inbetween the hard work we have still been able to keep the daily fun going...can't you tell by Joe's face!? =) 
Trails for People Project at Bear Mountain  Trails for People Project at Bear Mountain
Trails for People Project at Bear Mountain  Trails for People Project at Bear Mountain

September 17, 2015

With more than 700 sq ft of crib wall completed, boulderization of both the upper and lower zones finished, and stone trail features built, the Trails for People site is coming together beautifully. Sometimes some of the most basic tasks can be some of the hardest work. There has been and will be lots of moving both stone and dirt. Although some of those tasks dont require the brain power that wall building does, it is definitely an important as well as difficult job. Every piece of the project has to come together seemlessly, even when we have some curve balls thrown at us, and we are very lucky to have such a hard working and talented crew of people to make it happen! The progress is excitingly more evident each and every week.
Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project
Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

September 10, 2015

Today marks a pretty big milestone for the 2015 AmeriCorps program... In exactly one month it will be our last day out in the field. It is crazy how fast time has flown by, and even though the temperatures last week might not say so, autumn is sneaking up on us. This morning started with a lot reflection from all of the crews. We talked about what we have accomplished and overcome as both an individual and as a crew. Sometimes it takes the time to really sit down, think about, and talk out those kinds of things to realize how much we have all been through over these last five months. Some of us have gone from little or no trail experience, to being confident crew members. We have all learned to overcome our inexperience, differences in personalities, daily obstacles, or sometimes frustrations to make the most out of our trail experiences. Whether it be the weather and the heat draining us, or the building wearing down on our brains, we have all been able to come together and have tremendous success so far this season. 
The last weeks will be a time for finishing and finalizing. At Bear specifically, it seems like there is still so much to do before we see the final product, and sometimes the tasks to get there will seem overwhelming. The key over the next month will be keeping focus and keep drilling hard (no pun intended...) I do not think that the "itis" that comes along with time winding down to the end will come with this project. We will be running full speed ahead toward the finish at Trails for People, and I think it will be a great feeling, but it will also make it continue to go by quicker than we think. I hope that everyone who is a part of this experience will continue to give it their all and make the most of it, remembering and cherishing each and every day as the awesome learning adventure that being a part of a trail crew is!

September 2, 2015

Projects are starting to come to a finish, while others are just beginning. The entire retaining wall is complete but there is still plenty of building to go. Boulderscaping continues as we prepare for a stone and wood delivery. Many times, the transitionary period where maintainence of the site and prep for the upcoming projects is the most important! It has been exciting to see the growth and change in the worksite, and it will be an exciting 6 weeks till the finish. 
Don't forget...September 26th is National Public Lands Day! We will be joining REI at Bear Mountain to help beautify Trails for People by planting native trees and plants. Show your favorite public space some love!
                            Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

August 27, 2015

The progress continues at TFP as the retaining wall finish is in sight, the hideous old pipe is now out of the ground, and prep for the next steps begin! Our crib wall Trail U course with Mr. Kevin Stamey was a great success. It seems we might have some new stonework lovers on our hands! Trail work is more about patience and learning as you go, rather than instant gratification. It takes a lot of time & love to make these trail projects take shape, and that is the greatest thing that we as a trail crew can share with the volunteers that join us each week.

Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

August 20, 2015

Digging, building, stone paving, quarrying, dragging and hoisting oh my!
The excitement never ends at the Trails for People project. There is so much going and and so much to do! The crib wall and retaining walls are coming along beautifully. The Amplitheatre is just about done! The boulder scaping looks awesome. But that is just the beginning! There will be a lot of preparing for the weeks to come moving stone and dirt. Whats unique about this project is that we will be continuing not only stonework on a massive scale, but also wood work, and installations of various trail features that usually wouldn't all be at one site. The Spider Hill House is slowly transforming! And we are super thankful to both the new and loyal returning volunteers who join in this process every week. 

Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

August 13, 2015

There has been over 400 sq.ft. of crib and retaining wall completed!
We have finished over half of the wall that will be constructed, but there is still a ton of work to be done at Trails for People. The amphitheater has begun construction, with the stairs in place and ready for the second tier. There is still some stone waiting to be delivered from the quarry, so there will be a lot of prep work to get the site ready for the next steps of building in the coming weeks!
Bear Mountain Trails for People Project  Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

August 6, 2015

The project is starting to take shape

There are already some completed sections of the retaining walls taking shape, as well as boulder scaping making the grounds start to feel like an exhibit. We had some awesome volunteer experiences this week. Sadly we said goodbye to our group from the Student Conservation Association (SCA), some of the Jolly Rovers trail crew returned for a second weekend, and we had one last day with the Nature Place Day Camp! We have some great returning volunteers as well as some new, including 15 year old twins, with an incredible work ethic, who found info at our table and decided to join! It is great to see young hikers with the initiative to support a community that interests them. Thats what it's all about!

Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

Bear Mountain Trails for People Project Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

 Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

July 30, 2015

There has been tremendous progress at the Trails for People Project. We have set about 226 square feet of crib wall already...with plenty more to go! The Megalithics were happy to have both the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the Jolly Rovers trail crew joining us this past week for a crash course on building crib wall. They have been awesome speedy learners helping to set a ton of stone. It was also a great exerience for everone on site to be able to see a professional trail crew in action! Although we had several newcomers to building, and a crowded worksite with as many as 25 people on site this weekend, all of our volunteers rose to the occasion. Most times it seems as if more hands is an obvious advantage, but sometimes with such a meticulous task as crib wall, it can get overwhelming. Luckily we had a great group that was more than capable of any and every task we set in front of them. Sometimes it is all about patience and keeping an open mind, along with hard work, even when it feels like its over 100 degrees out!

  Bear Mountain Trails for People Project  Bear Mountain Trails for People Project

ABOVE: Mr. Kevin Stamey showcasing some of his stone talent. Join him for a TRAIL U course on Crib Wall August 22-23 to learn how to build from one of the best!!

July 23, 2015

We are Diggin' In at the Trails for People Project!

Trails for People is off to a great start! Nature Place Day Camp has done a great job in constructing our climbing turn trail leading up to the SpiderHill House. It was hard work in the heat but they did an awesome job, and had some fun in the dirt! The Student Conservation Association has also joined us for a few weeks, and it has been awesome to share our trail building knowledge. We have started on Crib Wall building, with some stone splitting and shaping lessons in the mix. Every day this project is transforming, and we can thank all of our amazing volunteers!

Trails for People Bear Mountain  Trails for People Bear Mountain

Trails for People Bear Mountain  Trails for People Bear Mountain

July 16, 2015

It has been a very busy few weeks at Bear Mountain...but the Megalithic Crew is happy to announce that the Upper East Face project is NOW COMPLETE! The stairs look fantastic and we thank all of our volunteers who have contributed their time to help build so far this summer. We are lucky to have a great group from SCA (The Student Conservation Association) finishing the final touches to make the new AT trail look perfect! Be sure to visit the site and check out all of the hard work of our crew members!
Nature Place Day Camp is a great organization who incorporates a love for nature and outdoor excursions into the campers' experience. We were happy to share some trail work education with the young outdoor enthusiasts! (And are looking forward to our future NPDC visitors too!) It is great to see young minds learning and appreciating the hard work that goes into such a huge trail project like Bear Mountain.
In the coming weeks we will be diving in head first to the long awaited Trails For People Project. The interpretive site will be a one of a kind hands on educational experience for its visitors. To kick it off there will be some MAJOR stone work as we build the site's massive crib wall and amphitheatre. If dry masonry and stonework is right up your alley, be sure not to miss this project!
      Bear Mountain Trail Crew Nature Place Day Camp   Bear Mountain Trail Crew Nature Place Day Camp
                Bear Mountain Trail Crew Nature Place Day Camp

June 25, 2015

We are Drillin' into the Finish!
Bear Mountain Megalithic Trail Crew  Bear Mountain Megalithic Trail Crew
Ellie P. drilling and splitting                             Dedicated Volunteers Ron & Daniel
                                                                        dumping some crush for their stairs
The finish of the Upper East Face stairs to the cul-de-sac is in sight!! The Megalithics are Bustin' Rock to complete the stairs by July. We have some fantastic dedicated volunteers that help make our goals attainable. Building trail this technical would not be possible without some serious man power, which we are very lucky to have available every weekend. You can find us quarrying, dragging and flying big rock, hammering and drilling away, until these beautiful rocks create a completed work of art!

June 18, 2015

Meet your 2015 Megalithic Trail Crew!

Megalithic Trail Crew Bear Mountain

 (Back Row: Mike Betros, Kevin Simpson, Ellie Pelletier, Jerrica Lavooy, Ama Koenigshof. 
Middle Row: Kevin Stamey, Amanda Finley. Front: Joe Knight)


The Megalithic Trail Crew at Bear Mountain has been graced with a fantastic dynamic of both personalities and skills this year. We are lucky to have three returning 2014 AmeriCorps members, Kevin Stamey, a previous Taconic crew member, as well as Joe Knight and Ellie Pelletier, second-time Bear members. They bring a wealth of knowledge that helps to elevate the performace level of all the other crew members and volunteers around them. Amanda Finley is an AmeriCorps veteran who brings experience from all around the US. Mike Betros is an avid hiker and former AT volunteer who decided to dive right into the world of trail work. Jerrica comes from a design & media background and brings an artisitic eye to the structure of trail building. We are all fortunate to work with Ama, Trail Builder/Educator & Program Manager, and Kevin Simpson, Trail Construction Manager & 2013 AmeriCorps Crew Member. Ama and Kevin are educators and advisors, not only for volunteers, but all of our crew members, helping to teach and enforce the knowledge needed to successfully accomplish all of the goals that make Bear Mountain such an amazing project. 

June 11, 2015

 It was an exciting week at Bear Mountain to kick off June. On Friday the Rockland Conservation and Service Corps got to incorporate trail work with the Megalithic Crew into their training. We were all really excited to be able to share the different steps of our stairs project with you. They got to get hands on with quarrying and prepping, griphoists, the tedious task of actually setting a stair stone, and finishing with revegetation. There was great energy and a lot of smiles so we hope to see some of you back out on the mountain with us! 

National Trails Day was another success, with some awesome activities, freebies, and of course Trail Education being shared all day long! Thanks to REI and Whole Foods for making this event happen. 

A great way to show your appreciation and love for trails every day (or weekend) is by volunteering with a trail crew! We love seeing both returning and fresh faces out on Bear Mountain every week. We couldn't do it without all of you!


Bear Mountain Rockland Conservation Corps  Bear Mountain Rockland Conservation Corps

Bear Mountain Rockland Conservation Corps  Bear Mountain Rockland Conservation Corps

June 4, 2015

There were some beautiful fun-filled days on Bear before (but also during) the rain that hit this past weekend! Thank you to all our new volunteers who joined us, including Boy Scout Troop 2 Rye. You all did a fantastic job on Saturday! It is always so fulfilling, not only sharing our trail knowledge, but also helping to inform and inspire younger generations who already possess a love for the outdoors. It was great to see how excited these young boys (and men) were to get their hands dirty and make a difference. Our trail will be a more beautiful place thanks to all of you! Volunteering with us can be a great experience, whether with a group, your significant other, or a venture for yourself - all you have to do is come out and give it a try! 

Bear Mountain Upper East Face Volunteers   Bear Mountain Upper East Face Volunteers

Bear Mountain Upper East Face Volunteers   Bear Mountain Upper East Face Volunteers

May 28, 2015

 It was a great Memorial Day Weekend!
Our massive stair set and the big crib wall project nicknamed "crazy town" have made some serious progress within the few days we were out on the Upper East Face. The team has transformed a formerly disconnected stairs training project to some beautiful finished trail. It took almost 2 full days, but one of the biggest crib stones to date was set in place, and Kevin and Mike were so proud. It is great to see such awesome accomplishments, because we will have 53 stairs and some special features still ahead of us! 
Upper East Face Bear Mountain Upper East Face Bear Mountain

May 21, 2015

 Big Things on Bear!
During our last week of training, the crews started making moves to begin the Trails for People project on Bear Mountain! Grip hoists and rigging setups were utilized to move major rock, which will help create the massive crib wall going in on site. There were some awesome displays of teamwork, and even a little rain and mud couldn't slow down our team. The entire base layer of the wall is now in place, giving the site the start of a new beginning! It is safe to say that all of our AmeriCorps members are well on their way to being stonework aficionados (if not already). For all of our potential volunteers who want to learn more about building retaining and crib walls, make sure to sign up to help out on the Trails for People Project this summer!! 
Trails for People Training on Bear   Trails for People Training on Bear   Trails for People Training on Bear

May 14, 2015

A new trail season has begun!!

Over the last two weeks, the new AmeriCorps NYNJTC Trail Crews have been training and learning everything they need to know to make our 2015 Trail Projects a huge success! It has been a nice blend of personalities and skill sets that will make for a great dynamic out in the field. Field training started in Bear Mountain with trail layout, tool uses and rock transport methods, then we dove right into stair building. The crews also got to experience some sidehilling over the river in the Taconic region. It has been fun learning all the tools of the trade and we are getting very excited to start working with our volunteers this season!!


 Rock Techniques for Stairs at Bear Mountain Rock Techniques for Stairs at Bear Mountain

 Rock Techniques for Stairs at Bear Mountain Rock Techniques for Stairs at Bear Mountain





December 19, 2014

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who came out and worked on the Bear Mountain Trails Project in 2014!


Here is what 211 individuals contributing a total of 9,466.5 volunteer hours accomplished in one season:

657 Linear Feet of Trail

561 Square Feet of Crib Wall

136 Stone Stairs


Top Volunteers of 2014

411 Hours Daniel Yu

118 Hours Ryan Moore

112 Hours Ron Brantner

80 Hours David Septimus

64 Hours John Hutchinson

64 Hours Mark Popadak

53 Hours Jim Piombino


We did awesome!  You can find pretty picture reports here


As winter is upon us and travel to the worksite has become treacherous, we have closed down the worksite for the season.


2015 will be a challenging and exciting year for the Bear Mountain Trails Project.  Trail U courses will start up in March (weather permitting)  We plan to finish the Upper East portion of the project to the 60% point first thing.  That means more stairs!  While we are working on stairs, we will also be quarrying and splitting rock for a project near the Inn called the Trails for People Project.  This project will provide an interpretive area at the bottom of the mountain to explain what we are all about, how we build trails, and why we do things they way we do.  For volunteers, this means building a lot of crib wall, a handful of stairs, artistically placing boulders, installing signage, some carpentry, and trying to make the place look like it hasn’t been trampled by millions of people.  The Trails for People Project also means we have both the opportunity and the challenge of being in the public eye.  If you are interested in talking to people and telling them what we (trail builders and NYNJTC) are all about, please let me know!  We will be looking for volunteers to serve as ambassadors for the Trail Conference at the foot of this project every weekend of the season and offering training for such a task.


After 2015, we are still in need of $250,000 to complete the relocation of the Appalachian Trail on Bear Mountain.  $250,000 will fund the two long hard seasons of technical dry masonry that it will take to complete the Upper East Face including building materials, tools, parts for the Canycoms, and project management.  Normally, I don’t mention this to our hard working volunteers who have already given so much, but if you know someone who is in the position to donate and inspired by our work and this 12 year long project, please send them my way.  Click Here to Donate


Thank you again for all your hard work!  I look forward to seeing you all out on the trail in the Spring!

October 8, 2014

Fall is upon us!  We will work into the winter as long as volunteers are willing so please contact Ama at least 48 hours in advance if you want to come out!  We've got stairs to build!

September 3, 2014

Wowzers the leaves are changing already!!, but its been some glorious weather to be working in the great outdoors these past couple of weeks. The work has been tiring, fun, interesting and we are seeing the very real results of our labor~ beautiful stonework! Join us on Bear Mtn. and show us that determined work ethic; you may just surprise yourself.

August 6, 2014

Crib wall and staircases!! We've spent much time during the last several weeks drilling, splitting and flying rocks. We piled them up and enjoyed our new quarried rock as a lunch spot, but dang that piled dwindled quickly last week. They're now in some new sections of trail and the rock pile must be replenished! C'mon out and lend us a hand!

July 30, 2014

The number of visitors to Bear Mtn. on any given day of the summer is great and least week was no exception to the rule. In addition to the people who came to hike and barbeque, however, were a fantastic number of volunteers working on the trail. Groundwork Hudson Valley Green Team (a summer youth employment program), members of the Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans, and four weekly volunteers were all out putting forth noble efforts to help the crew get things done. The Warriors and Vets enjoyed a morning hike while learning the how-to's and why's of creating sustainable tread from Field Manager, Kevin Simpson before putting their knowledge to work in the afternoon. The Green Team experienced using the griphoist and teamwork to move massive stones necessary for the project and how to build cribwall.   

July 23, 2014

No better place to experience nature than when you are in it; that's just what Nature's Place Day Camp did with us last week. This group of youth came out with us last Friday and got some hands-on experience using a grip hoist and they were all smiles:) This Friday we are hosting a day in honor of our Veterans which involves a hike from the top down Bear Mountain, lunch, and then an afternoon work session if the Vets feel so inclined. We are also looking forward to moving a lot of granite steps up the slope so we can get some staircases in place. Let's hope this heat doesn't melt the crew! 

July 16, 2014

So much to do and so little time! (That's what it seems like anyway.) The crew and our volunteers have devoted some time in the past couple of weeks to using our newly learned rock splitting skills in order to replenish our supply for on-going cribwall and staircase construction. After splitting rocks, it is still a large feat to move them closer to our site using sweat, brawn, and the high line (30 plus rocks moved in one afternoon). Ladies Day is Saturday, July 19th and Cribwall Trail-U is on Sunday...c'mon out!!

July 2, 2014

Last week was jam-packed with learning opportunities and the volunteers had a great time. Trail Builder, Ama Koegnishof taught a rock drilling and splitting class on Saturday and everyone had ample opportunity to practice with the drill,sledge, feathers, and wedges to create rocks that we'll use in crib wall and as steps in the near future. Thanks to David and Sam, a father/son duo, who came out on Sunday and split rock and moved it via highline for the first time. They were naturals! 

June 25, 2014

Happy Summer!! Boyscout Troop 78 volunteered their first day of summer to help us close down some old section of trail (THANK YOU!!) and, despite the bedrock and roots that seemed determined to thwart our trail building efforts, we had a productive last week (thirty-five plus square feet of new crib wall!). VOLUNTEERS, this weekend June, 28th and 29th we are offering two Trail-U courses. These classes are complimentary of the NYNJTC. So follow the link [email protected] and join us for a Stone Splitting and Rigging class (a 2 for 1!) or Canycom Training and help us get new surfacing up the mountain and on the trail. 

June 18, 2014

Attention Ladies!! Ama (Professional Trail Builder/Educator),Caitlyn, Jaime, and Ellie (AmeriCorps Crew Members) are ready, willing, and able to lead you into the wonderful world of trail work this Saturday June 21st, so come on out and work with us! Last week was a challenging one with some of our machinery needing belt replacements, heavy rain and slippery slopes challenging the crew's fortitude, but the smiles shone through the thick fog and the newly bloomed mountain laurel reminded us why we love our office. Despite setbacks our volunteers helped us build new crib wall, surface trail, and de-duff sections of trail for some more building this week. Come see why our job is so rewarding! 


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