Resolve to Protect Nature + Inspire Adventure, Every Day

January 01, 2020
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Resolve to Protect Nature + Inspire Adventure, Every Day
Catskill Sunset. Photo by Steve Aaron.


What are your 2020 outdoor resolutions?

This year, the Trail Conference promises to continue caring for your favorite trails and parks. We're here to help you create the kinds of memories outside that last a lifetime. For nearly 100 years, 365 days a year, our volunteers have been caring for cherished outdoor destinations and building the trails for your adventures. For nearly a century, our members have been advocating for the conservation of open space and protecting your ability to connect with nature. 

In 2020, we’re asking our Trail Family to show us how you protect the land you love. Whether you’re a Trail Conference volunteer blazing a trail or removing invasive species, or one of our fans picking up the litter you see on your hike or talking Leave No Trace to the group of teens you snap a photo for at the summit, you’re already an outdoor advocate protecting the experiences important to you.

Now, the Trail Conference has an easy challenge to add one more feel-good duty to your stewardship checklist. Join our #TrailLove365 journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as we ask the trail community to spread small acts of (trail) kindness.


Every Friday we will present a new challenge and celebrate the incredible spirit of this trail community. Along the way, we’ll share some of your stories to help inspire others—because small steps can have a big impact! So join the journey, tag your posts with #TrailLove365, and show your love for trails, 365 days a year.

Week 22, May 29: #RecreateResponsibly

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives and caused a great deal of uncertainty. Things are changing on a weekly, or even daily, basis. As parks, trails, and forests begin to reopen, it can be confusing to navigate this “new normal” in terms of how to recreate responsibly. The #RecreateResponsibly Coalition has guidance to help us all get outdoors safely:

What does recreating responsibly mean to you? Share your thoughts + ideas with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Week 21, May 22: Report a Trail Issue

We are eager to resume the care of parks and trails to help ensure everyone has a safe, enjoyable experience in nature. With that in mind, please understand that many trails have been without volunteer attention for the entire spring and maybe overgrown or visibly in need of maintenance. Not all parks are allowing volunteer activity to resume, and not all volunteers are comfortable getting out just yet. Be understanding and patient in the coming months as we work to bring all trails back to their best condition.

If you encounter trail conditions that are damaged or unsafe, use our Trail Issue Report to let us know.

Week 20, May 15: Garlic Mustard Madness

This week's challenge involves getting your hands a little dirty by pulling some garlic mustard! Invasive species threaten our native ecosystems, wildlife, and even our economy. Garlic mustard is a widespread invasive plant in the mustard family that flowers around this time of year and is easy to spot. You'll find it growing along trails, roadsides, and maybe even in your backyard! 

Here are a few key characteristics + how to identify it:

  1. Garlic mustard has small white flowers and heart-shaped, toothed leaves.
  2. Crushed leaves smell like garlic or onion. (That's where it gets its name from!)
  3. This biennial plant has first and second-year plants. The first-year plants are low growing, and the second-year plants generally grow 2-3 feet tall.

Bonus: Garlic mustard is edible and makes yummy pesto! If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em!

Week 19, May 8: Boost Your Skills

Our volunteers and staff have done a remarkable job quickly building up our new digital learning and engagement opportunities. An extension of our in-the-field training, this is a new initiative that came as a response to COVID-19. From live webinars to on-demand content, we're providing workshops and lectures to boost your skills and help keep everyone connected.

Missed a webinar? Check out our online learning library for the recording.

Week 18, May 1: Trivia for Trails

Dreaming of the outdoors? Us too! Each Wednesday at 8 p.m., we will be hosting a 30-minute, 15 question trivia game in support of our Recovery and Response Fund. A weekly prize will be offered to the winner from either our Trail Store or from our generous partners, Hudson North Cider Co. Join us a fun-filled evening of testing your trail knowledge + play to win a care package from Hudson North!

Pay $5 to play and 100% of your donation goes to protecting parks + trails through our Recovery and Response Fund (Plus: enters you for a chance to win awesome prizes!) To sign up, please explore our events calendar.

Week 17, Apr. 24: National Volunteer Appreciation Week

It's #NationalVolunteerWeek! Volunteers are our superheroes. Every day, we celebrate their passion, dedication, and leadership that make the trails we all love possible.

This week, show your appreciation for Trail Conference volunteers and their service to parks and trails by thanking them with a social post or supporting their work with a donation or by becoming a member today.

Week 16, Apr. 17: Write a Love Letter or Poem to Mother Nature

It's almost Earth Day! Express your love of nature with a poem, love letter, or your favorite form of expression! Share it with your Trail Family on social and tag #TrailLove365 to be featured. 

June got us started with this lovely poem!

Week 15, Apr. 10: Tune In + Give Back to the Trails You Love

We're excited to offer a variety of online webinars for digital learning and engagement opportunities. Topics include:

  • Trail maintenance
  • Mapmaking
  • Plant identification
  • And more!

Explore the events and snag your spot today!

Week 14, Apr. 3: Get Social + Share the Trail Love

Find pictures of your favorite trail experiences and share them with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. While there, thank the volunteers who care for those parks and trails!

Week 13, Mar. 27: Connect with Nature Using Seek + iNaturalist

Turn your curiosity for nature into environmental action in your very own backyard or neighborhood! Have you ever noticed an interesting plant you’ve never seen before? There are two mobile apps awesome for learning identification. iNaturalist and Seek are two free, easy-to-use mobile apps that are transforming the way we engage with the diversity of life we see outdoors. Get started with our how-to videos by our Citizen Science Program Coordinator Brent.

Week 12, Mar. 20: Take a Trail Less Traveled

Social distancing? We prefer to think of it as seeking solitude and connecting with nature. 

The most popular trails and outdoor destinations in our region all have alternatives that are equally spectacular—and we’re sharing our favorite trails less traveled. Bonus: When you opt for an alternative hike, you’re part of the solution and practicing Leave No Trace principles to help alleviate the overuse of popular trails. 

Week 11, Mar. 13: Share Your Nature Therapy

Find at least 15 minutes every day to connect with nature. Mood lifting, immune boosting, and grounding, spending even just a few minutes outdoors can have endless benefits for your health and wellbeing.

Take a walk, sit outside and listen to the birds, or meditate on a rock. Even if you can't get to an ideal outdoor spot, studies have shown that just looking at pictures of nature or listening to nature sounds have similar benefits.

To flood our feeds with positive and calming vibes, post your favorite nature photo and tag #TrailLove365 for a chance to be featured on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!

Week 10, Mar. 6: Sip + Support Your Trails with Hudson North Cider Co.

Hudson North Cider Co, a mission-driven cidery, launched in the Hudson Valley and NYC on Mar. 1. One of Hudson North’s core values (along with crafting a tasty hard cider!) is to help preserve and maintain trails and waterways in the area through a partnership with Scenic Hudson and the Trail Conference. Through a partnership with distributor Craft Beer Guild Distributing of N.Y., 10 cents of every gallon of draft cider sold will circulate back to help maintain these trails, while also building awareness of their abundance in the area. Hudson North’s launch will be coordinated with “Taps for Trails” events around New York City, where $1 from each pint sold goes towards maintaining a local trailhead.

So grab a pint + protect the land you love at an upcoming Taps for Trails event in NYC:

Week 9, Feb. 28: Play, Clean, Go!

Protect the land you love from invasive species by cleaning your boots, mountain bike, gear, and boats before you go out and after enjoying the outdoors. Remember Play, Clean, Go.

Invasive plants can spread through seed dispersal. Seeds can hitchhike in boot treads, laces, and on your gear, especially if the trails are wet. Seeds can hang on your hike for up to 3 miles and from trail to trail. Clean the mud, dirt, and seeds off your footwear and gear before and after your adventures to protect native ecosystems and help stop the spread of invasive species.

Week 8, Feb. 21: Enter a Trail Race

Looking for a little motivation to get you through the rest of the winter? Enter a trail running race!

Not only is this an awesome way to stay active and motivated, but you can support the continued care of your favorite trails at the same time! There are two upcoming races to benefit our mission:

Week 7, Feb. 14: Keep Your Mountains Close to Your Heart, Every Day

Protect the land you love all year long + do it in style with our limited-edition Trail Conference topo tee! Become a Trail Conference sustaining member and receive an exclusive T-shirt. Sustaining members provide critical and continuous funding throughout the year to support the efforts of all the incredible people who serve our mission. 

This new tee features the topo lines of the Catskills' Slide Mountain on the chest. (The peak's name and elevation are written into the lines!) The Trail Conference logo is on the sleeve. It's available in unisex sizes in both gray and white. Hurry! Snag your shirt while supplies last.

Week 6, Feb. 7: Speak Up for Your Trails

Are you an outdoor advocate? 

Our voices are one of the most powerful tools we have in ensuring trail lands remain protected, open, and safe for all people to access. That’s why Trail Conference staff and volunteers are heading to Albany on several days over the next two months to speak with N.Y. elected officials about the importance of connecting people with nature. Explore the issues and raise your voice for parks and trails.

Week 5, Jan. 31: Support Local Small Businesses

Before or after your next adventure, search for a local business located near the trailhead and give them your support. Not only is it great for local communities and economies, but you might just find a new favorite spot! Be sure to mention you're a trail user and are in the area because of your favorite park. Check out our favorite trail-loving businesses.

What's your favorite trailside haunt? Share your favorites with us on social!

Week 4, Jan. 24: Plant Native! 

Our Habitat Helpers crew cares for the beautiful native landscape at our headquarters, and they've collected seeds of our 25 species of native wildflowers. These native seeds are available for sale at our trail store (and they’re a steal!) The seeds should be planted now so that they can “experience winter,” so when it gets warm they are cued to germinate.

Let’s make it a 2020 resolution to plant native!

Week 3, Jan. 17: Say Hello to a Fellow Trail User

Not only is it great trail etiquette to say hello to others you see on the trail (and hey, could spark a new friendship!), it's an easy way to spread a small act of trail kindness. Just in a short interaction, you can quickly check-in and ask how their hike, ride, or run is going and see if everything is okay. That person might be lost and need some help! Flex your navigational know-how, take out your map, and help them find their way.

It's an awesome opportunity to practice your Trail Steward skills, and who knows, you could have potentially prevented a rescue situation. We're all Trail Family, after all! Let's look out for each other.

Week 2, Jan. 10: Give a Map to a Trail Friend (or Stranger!)

A well-planned adventure is one of the best ways to protect your favorite trails. And that all starts with a map! Not only does the Trail Conference build and protect trails, we also maintain and share the most accurate, up-to-date trail maps, guides, and resources, ensuring that everyday trail users have the tools and education they need to use trails responsibly and sustainably.

Give a map, any map, to a trail friend or stranger you cross trails with! Maybe it's an extra map. Maybe it's your favorite one. And maybe that map will inspire a new (and safe!) adventure. Whenever you explore, always remember to pack an up-to-date, print or digital map and encourage others to do the same.

Week 1, Jan. 3: Pick Up One Piece of Litter

Imagine if everyone picked up trash every time they hit the trail.

For the first week of our #TrailLove365 challenge, we're starting simple with something many of you already so awesomely do! On your next adventure, pack out one piece of litter you find on the trail—or go crazy and get all of it! Post a photo of your good deed, and tag #TrailLove365. Encourage your trail friends to do the same.

Remember, nobody's perfect. If you encounter a litterbug, turn it into a positive, teachable moment. Maybe it was an accident. Maybe they didn't know better. Educate them about Leave No Trace principle 3: Dispose of waste properly. (Learn more here.) We all have an important part to play in protecting the outdoors when we're enjoying the outdoors. Let's lead by example! 

Get social + share the trail love 365 days a year!

You'll find us on the trail and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.