People for Trails: Andy Garrison
As volunteer chair of the Long Path North and chair of the Trail Conference Conservation Committee, it’s quite possible that Andy Garrison knows more about and devotes more time to preserving and improving the Long Path than anyone else.
“It takes a lot to manage a trail that is 430 miles long,” Andy Garrison says matter-of-factly. Beyond the formidable task of ensuring this long-distance trail is properly maintained, the elements of advocacy and conservation are an ever-present challenge. Andy explains: “In a state park, for example, the trails are protected, and you work with the park officials. But the Long Path crosses the land of many different government agencies, corporations, and private landowners, and each of these has their own set of rules and management practices. So in addition to trail maintenance,” Andy says, “we are constantly working to move sections of the trail that are on roads into the woods.”
This is done by getting approvals to construct new trail on already protected land— not always an easy task, Andy says, as it sometimes takes more than a decade or two to get these approvals from the land managers. In areas that lack preserved land, the Trail Conference relies on private landowners to allow the trail to cross their property. Andy and his fellow Conservation Committee members also work to purchase strategic parcels of land with a vision to eventually link already preserved land, creating green corridors for trails like the Long Path to traverse.
The Long Path has personal significance to Andy, who hiked the entire trail with his son in a series of backpacking trips in 2006, two years after the pair had completed Vermont’s Long Trail (the original inspiration for the Long Path itself). “I realized after the Vermont trip that the Long Path needed a lot of things before it was ready to be a pleasurable trail to thru hike,” he recalls. Already active in maintaining and protecting trails along the Shawangunk Ridge, Andy moved his focus to the Long Path, and has been making considerable contributions to the trail for the last 13 years. In that time, thousands of acres of undeveloped land have been preserved and about 40 miles of the Long Path have been moved off of roads.
Inspired by that progress and the increased interest in the trail, Andy Garrison is optimistic that the completion of the Long Path remains a reality. “Beyond the current terminus at Boyd Thacher State Park, work has already begun to extend the Long Path,” he says. Then he adds: “We can always use more help.”
Friends of the Long Path
Friends of the Long Path is a dedicated group working to improve the overall hiking and backpacking experience for New York State’s Long Path. Join the Friends of the Long Path on Facebook group and get regular updates on the trail.
Remembering the Work of Jakob Franke
“Jakob and I worked together for 12 years, and he inspired many— including me,” says Andy. “He is missed very much.” The Trail Conference is actively looking for a new Long Path South Chair to manage the Long Path from Manhattan to US 209 in Wawarsing, N.Y.; contact [email protected] for more information.
The Long Path exists because of the incredible passion of volunteers who want to be a part of the legacy of New York’s Greatest Trail. Maintainers and trail managers are always needed—adopt a section of the Long Path to call your own! Or come spend a few hours with one of our crews and help with the ongoing task of reducing road walks by constructing new trail.
This fall, we have Long Path relocation projects in the northwest corner of Harriman State Park, on the Greene/Schoharie County line in the northern Catskills, and at the Schoharie/Albany County line connecting with the Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area.
Come help us improve the trail that runs from the Big Apple to the Big Park! Learn more and discover all the ways you can get involved by emailing [email protected].