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Trail Conference Launches 2014 Breakneck Trail Steward Program This Memorial Day Weekend
Above: 2014 Trail Stewards Karen Melanson, Brian Tragno, Malachy Labrie-Cleary, Matt Decker, and Kali Bird with Trail Conference volunteer Fred Stern, our Trail Supervisor for Hudson Highlands State Park.
If you are planning to hike at Breakneck Ridge this summer, stop and say Hi! to Trail Stewards from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
Starting this holiday weekend, teams of trail stewards will be on at the foot of the “most popular trail in North America,” or hiking along trails on the ridge, sharing information to help visitors enjoy this spectacular Hudson Valley destination: how to hike safely, good trail routes, hiking etiquette, and how to support hiking trails in our region.
Five trail stewards will be assisting hikers during the high-traffic weekends at this popular trail destination through the Labor Day Weekend. The program was tested for one month last summer, during which two stewards helped equip more than 5,000 visitors with maps and information, answered hundreds of questions about local flora, fauna, and history, steered dozens of visitors back onto trails they had missed, and assisted multiple injured hikers. Neither NYS Parks nor local emergency responders received a single call from Breakneck hikers while the stewards were on duty.
The success of the program inspired financial and in-kind support from several donors for an expanded program this year.
Based on counts made by stewards last year, the Trail Conference estimates that in the pleasant-weather months more than 2,000 people scramble up Breakneck Ridge each week. Many of them arrive by train at Metro-North’s Breakneck Ridge weekend whistle stop. The rail road makes three stops in each direction on weekends, and hundreds of hikers may get off on peak days.
The Stewards will be sharing photos and experiences via the Trail Conference Twitter account twitter.com/NYNJTC Follow it to keep up with weekend news from Breakneck.
This year’s Trail Stewards are: Kali Bird of Kingston, who launched last year’s program; Matt Decker of Beacon, Malachy Labrie-Cleary of Cold Spring, Karen Melanson of Hopewell Junction, and Brian Tragno of Union City, NJ.
The Trail Conference is pleased to be working with Hudson Highlands State Park on this project to connect with hikers right on the trail and improve the trail experience for everyone. We thank our Beacon-based retail partner MountainTops for their support of the program.
To learn more about hiking at Breakneck and about getting involved as a trail volunteer, visit www.nynjtc.org/breakneck