Bearfoot in the park

July 18, 2011
Kathy Kahn
HV Biz


Bearfoot in the park


With the Hudson Valley abounding in parkland and gasoline expensive, downstate visitors and local residents have been making the most of the beaches, lakes and campsites available across the region...

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC), in conjunction with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, has recently re-opened the 700 step hand-hewn granite staircase, as well as one mile of treadway supported by stone wall cribs, leading to highest point of the  park on Perkins Drive, with plans to finish the project by 2013

“We saw 500,000 hikers visit Bear Mountain last year, so this is going to be a unique opportunity for them to see the renovation while hiking, and we are anticipating the number of visitors to remain the same to our trails or pass last year’s mark,” said Chris Ingui, program coordinator for the Trail Conference. “We’ve also made renovations to the Appalachian Trail to make it easier and more accessible.”

From 2006-2010, volunteers from The NYNJTC, Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Student Conservation Association (SCA), Rockland County Americorps, and the Boy Scouts of America, among others, have traveled to Bear Mountain to receive free training as part of Trail Conference’s innovative Trail University program.

More than 700 individuals volunteered more  25,000 hours  helping to  build the most technically constructed stretch of the entire Appalachian Trail and the largest trail building project in the history of the Trail Conference. Last month, the Trail Conference opened a one-mile long loop trail at the summit of Bear Mountain, half of which is handicap accessible. This loop trail is accessible from Perkins Tower and is also a relocation of the Appalachian Trail. Work is planned to continue through 2013 on this project, according to Ingui.

Plans to connect the Appalachian Trail through Arrow Park in the Monroe-Sterling Forest State Park have been curtailed due to budget cuts but the Trail Conference is marching on.