Trail Conference 2016 Look Back / 2017 Look Ahead

November 07, 2016
Staff
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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Trail Conference 2016 Look Back / 2017 Look Ahead
Headquarters Exterior Fall 2015 - Photo: Jeremy Apgar

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In 2016, the Trail Conference served as the stewards of more than 2,100 miles of trails throughout the greater New York metropolitan area. The demand for the Trail Conference's services continues to grow as we provide the public with trail information, build and maintain trails, and act as advocates for trails and the lands they cross. Check out the achievements of our organization this last year and see what's to come.


Catskills

2016 Look Back

  • Built and opened the first section of the new Nature Trail at the Catskill Interpretive Center.
  • Carried materials up to the 3,810-foot summit of Sugarloaf Mountain and constructed 80 feet of new bog bridging along this section of the Devil’s Path.
  • Carried materials 5 miles over Slide Mountain (4,180 feet) to replace and install over 160 feet of bog bridging on Cornell Mountain.
  • Worked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to construct two brand new lean-tos: German Hollow and Batavia Kill.
  • Seven additional lean-tos were stained, protecting them for years to come.
  • In the Summit Stewards’ second year patrolling Giant Ledge/Panther Mountain, Slide, Wittenberg, and Cornell mountains, we became a resource for the public and a protector of the peaks. 

2017 Look Ahead

  • Replace Fox Hollow lean-to in partnership with the DEC. 
  • Assist with opening the soon-to-be-purchased “missing link” of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail rail bed, providing access to the public.

New Jersey

2016 Look Back

  • Expanded work on 25 new miles of trail in Morristown National Historical Park, partnering with the National Park Service to improve and maintain this popular trail network.
  • The Ramapo Earth Crew, comprised of college students, continued to grow, contributing over 1,300 hours this year to projects from the Delaware Water Gap to the Palisades.
  • The Highlands Trail Crew tackled trail assessment and improvement projects across the entire 125+ miles of trail in New Jersey. Their GPS inventory data will be used to prioritize future conservation and improvement efforts.
  • Ramapo Valley County Reservation, with one of the state’s most heavily-used trail networks, received an initial overhaul to its main trail network. This first phase was part of a multi-year program to rebuild the trail system to more modern, sustainable standards. The new series of blazed loops, including a newly-constructed connector trail, is already extremely popular with hikers and casual walkers alike.
  • After years of effort, a 70-foot bridge at Long Pond Ironworks State Park was built to restore access to the Highlands, Hasenclever Iron, and Sterling Ridge trails.

2017 Look Ahead

  • Improve trailhead maps and signage to facilitate safe, enjoyable hiking for users of all experience levels.
  • Enhance and promote under-used trail networks to more evenly distribute the increasing number of trail users. 

East of the Hudson River

2016 Look Back

  • More than 15 miles of new trail were adopted in Westchester County.
  • The Taconic Trail Crew focused on maintainence of the Undercliff Trail and a reroute of the Wilkinson Trail near Breakneck Ridge. Over 100 volunteers contributing more than 1,000 hours joined the crew this season.
  • The Fahnestock Trail Crew build the mile-long Hubbard Loop Trail in Fahnestock State Park.
  • Two new trail crews were established: the East Hudson Trail Crew and the Hudson Highlands Trail Crew. 
  • A youth initiative, introducting 71 high school seniors to trail maintenance, was launched.
  • In our third season at Breakneck Ridge, the Trail Stewards welcomed and assisted an average of 1,000 hikers per weekend day.

2017 Look Ahead

  • Expand outreach in New York City to improve trails in the five boroughs and recruit volunteers for needs throughout the region.
  • Continue to identify trail maintenance and trail building priorities in Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam counties.

West of the Hudson River

2016 Look Back

  • The Long Distance Trails Crew (LDTC) and Hudson Nor’Westers Trail Crew worked together to restore over 300 feet of trail at Sam’s Point at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Additionally, the crews assisted the park with restoration efforts after the massive wildfire that burned through the area in April.
  • The LDTC rerouted and restored sections of the Long Path in Harriman and Tallman State Parks, and the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in Harriman and Sterling Forest state parks.
  • The Long Path Trail Crew completed 4 miles of new trails in the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest, connecting the Long Path to new parking locations.
  • The Palisades Trail Crew completed construction of 2.7 miles of the Redback/Eagle multi-use trail loop in Sterling Forest State Park to serve the hiking, equestrian, and mountain biking communities.
  • The Megalithic Trail Crew continued the construction of the Upper East Face Appalachian Trail reroute on Bear Mountain, leaving only 788 feet of trail to build to reach Perkins Memorial Tower.
  • Secured a key 8 acres of undeveloped land in Sullivan County, enabling a mile of the Long Path to be routed off the road in the future.
  • The inaugural season of the Bear Mountain Stewards program, positioned at the busy intersection of the Appalachian, Suffern-Bear Mountain, and Major Welch trails, introduced a diverse public of novice hikers to the Trail Conference. 

2017 Look Ahead

  • Preserve more land parcels along the Highlands Trail and Long Path.
  • Build the final link for the Highlands Trail reroute in Chester, N.Y., removing a mile of road walk in the process.
  • Continue/complete construction of the A.T. reroutes in Harriman-Bear Mountain.
  • Continue Trail restoration efforts at Sam's Point.

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Invasive Species Programs

2016 Look Back

  • Expanded our efforts to preserve biodiversity in natural areas, removing 66,000 invasive plants in 58 parks, preserves, and partner properties.
  • Engaged over 150 new volunteers to survey for invasive species in natural areas region-wide.
  • Led the Lower Hudson Partnership for Invasive Species Management (PRISM) in developing public outreach and education invasive species identification and management.
  • Helped prioritize invasive species efforts in New York’s Hudson Valley region.

2017 Look Ahead

  • Ramp up invasive species removal efforts by increasing summer crew service periods, engaging more volunteers and streamlining data collection and processing.
  • Lead the 45 partner organizations of the Lower Hudson PRISM to aggressively target priority areas and species while expanding public education and outreach.

Trail Conference Conservation Corps

2016 Look Back

  • Corps members gave 19,995 service hours, held 465 work trips, hosted 22 Trail University courses, and fielded over 600 volunteers.
  • Improved more than 22,880 linear feet of trail.
  • More than 70 acres of land was improved by the removal and treatment of invasive species.
  • 124 miles of trail were assessed and inventoried.

2017 Look Ahead

  • Expand and refine successful volunteer recruitment programs, such as Trail Love Days.
  • Field eight crews to build and improve more trails from the Delaware Water Gap to the Catskills.

Trail Information: Publications

2016 Look Back

  • Produced new editions of five maps sets in print and digital format: Harriman-Bear Mountain, Jersey Highlands, Kittatinny, Shawangunk, and Sterling Forest.  The revisions included significant improvements ranging from adding trail mileage numbers on some maps to providing more detailed contour lines on others.
  • Surpassed 100,000 map downloads through the Avenza Maps app and continued to expand promotion efforts through trailhead kiosk signage.

2017 Look Ahead

  • Produce revised editions of two map sets: North Jersey and East Hudson.
  • Published new revised editions of two books: Circuit Hikes in Harriman and Harriman Trails.
  • Maps covering some popular Westchester County parks, and maps covering the Long Path, will be top priorities for brand new maps in 2017.

Trail Information: Website & Databases

2016 Look Back

The new Trail Conference website, which launched in December, is the digital version of walking through the door at our Darlington Schoolhouse headquarters, now easily accessible, at your fingertips, on any device. The website is fully integrated with our new CRM databases to provide our members and volunteers a better experience interacting with the Trail Conference. The Technology Committee, working with our development partner WannaPixel, led the design, migration and implementation effort from our old website and legacy databases to a new integrated website and CRM platform.

  • Plan trips with the Hike and Park Finder, destination guides and hiking resources to make the most of your time outdoors, or find hiking clubs.
  • How did it go out there? Share your hiking stories.
  • Learn about how the Trail Conference is tailoring its efforts with a wide range of programs to build, maintain, and protect trails across our region.
  • Explore the many ways you can contribute to the work thousands of volunteers do to connect people with nature, all in one place.
  • Find ways to get involved to adopt a trail, volunteer with a trail crew, and take a Trail U workshop.
  • My Dashboard for volunteers with tools to share status updates on your trail work, find volunteer resources, see your events, and more.

2017 Look Ahead

  • Refine new features and introduce fresh content.
  • Introduce and roll out online tools for our volunteers.

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