Trail Volunteers Tackle Major Tree Hazards in Parks

December 05, 2012
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Trail Volunteers Tackle Major Tree Hazards in Parks



Volunteers get Sandy cleanup underway in our parks.Within days of Hurricane Sandy's impact, Trail Conference volunteers were out checking and clearing trails in our parks and preserves. Our parks and trails were very hard hit by the storm, with hundreds if not thousands of trees downed.

Senior trail volunteers have been working with park officials to explore and inventory the damage and prioritize projects. Certified chainsaw volunteers are providing crucial assistance in clearing trails and making them safe for public use. Trail maintainers and hikers are urged to be extremely cautious on trails and to report serious obstacles such as large downed trees and 'leaners'. Everyone should respect trail closure signs. Click here for info and links about trails & parks closings/openings in our region.

We will showcase and report on some  trail-clearing efforts here as we get reports and photos from the field. Watch our crew calendar for opportunities to help in the field.

Or, support our work by making a donation.

Team clears trails on Schunemunk Mountain. Photo by Andy Wong.

Schunemunk Mountain State Park

Dec. 2

A chain saw team led by Andy Wong cleared the Sweet Clover and Dark Hollow trails of blow downs. They hoped to return to the mountain soon to clear other trails.

Harriman State Park

Dec. 4

West Hudson South Chain Sawyers Out. Cleared:

9 BDs on the AT between junction with AT and Lemon Squeezer.

17 BDs on ASB/LP between Lemon Squeezer and Times Square.  There is still a large tree blocking 10 min west of Times Square. And a couple 5 min west. Both passable.

8 BDs at the Lichen/ASB intersection. We cleared the main blockage at the bottom. There's still some logs higher up. Probably passable. A bowsaw would help.

Found a massive pine blockage on the RD, on the north side of the hill between Times Square and Bottle Cap. Another day.

27 blowdowns on the Pine Meadow trail from the Equestrian Ctr almost to Pine Meadow Road.

Nov. 21

The AMC West of Hudson maintainers have been hard at work inspecting and clearing trails in northeastern Harriman/Bear Mtn. State Parks.  Trails that have been sufficiently cleared to be made passable include the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail from the Bear Mtn Inn to Cat's Elbow (junction with Ramapo-Dunderberg on West Mtn), 1779 from its southern terminis to the washed out Popolopen Gorge bridge (a small piece remains to be cleared just north of Rt. 6); all of the Timp-Torne except from the R-D to the Fawn Trail and the top of the Torne out to 9W, and the R-D from 9W to the TT trail just east of the Timp.  The volunteers plan to do additional trail clearing Thanksgiving weekend.

The West Hudson chain saw crew continues its extraordinary efforts to clear trails, clearing 36 blowdowns on Nov. 20. These include:

  • 22 on the Long Path from Skannatati to Times Square. It's clear now.
  • 11 on the Ramapo-Dunderberg, up the rise south of Times Square.
  • 3 on Arden-Surebridge going back to Skannatati

Nov. 14

Harriman State Park

Mark Liss, Rich Siegelman, and Joel Pinsker cleared 25 blowdowns today.  Pine Meadow Trail from Reeves visitor center to Kakiat, Kakiat to Racoon Brook Hills, two at end of Racoon Brook Hills, then turned around Kakiat back down to Hillburn-Torne-Sebago at Cascade of Slid, Hillburn-Torne-Sebago over Diamond Mountain to Seven Hills out to Sebago boat ramp. Work time 7.5 hours Travel time 1.5 hours.

Elsewhere in the park, Steve Zubarik and his swamper, Noel Schulz, cut 21 blowdowns on the Tuxedo-Mount Ivy Trail, from 7 Lakes Drive to its west end. "They were big," Steve reports.

Nov. 13

Hudson Highlands State Park

Volunteers Geof Connor and Fred Stern sawed out 5 blow-downs. Geof, our East Hudson Trails Chair, reports: "Cornish trail is now clear. Washburn Trail is clear except for a couple of small detours."

Nov. 12

Tenafly Nature Center, NJ

Today, a crew of five using two chainsaws cleared 17 blowdowns from the White and Bischoff Trails as well as completing the big one on the Red Trail. These trails are now ready for walking.

Harriman State Park

Chain sawyer Steve Zubarik and swamper (assistant) Joan James cleared 24 blowdowns today. These included 3 on the Menomine Trail, one on the Long Path between Rt. 6 and Popolopen Gorge, and 14 on the Popolopen Gorge between Rt. 6 and the water treatment plant.

Nov. 9, 10, 11 Weekend

Clearing at Wawayanda

Wawayanda State Park, NJ

Volunteers cleared 32 trees in 8 hours at Wayawanda on Saturday, Nov. 10 (pictured at right). Crew members were: Pete Zuroff, crew chief; Alan Abramowitz, trail supervisor; Adam Baker, Norm Blumenstein, Matt Sedlack, Ed Leonard, and Estelle Anderson.

Harriman State Park, NY

On Saturday, Nov. 10, Marci Layton and Bob Fuller cleared over 30 blowdowns and trimmed over a dozen more to make the Timp Torne Trail from Rt. 9W to the unfinished tunnel and the Ramapo-Dunderberg from 9W to Bockberg Rd. passable.  They expect to complete the TT to 1777 and the RD to the Cornell Mine Trail this Saturday.


Troop 49 Scouts clear a portion of the Schuber Trail.Schuber Trail near Camp Glen Gray, NJ: Volunteer Paul Burns reports: "Nine boys and 4 parents - from Troop 49 in Oakland cleared the Schuber trail from Skyline Drive to the intersection with the White trail above Camp Glen Gray.  We removed all of the material less that ~6 inches from the trunks of the blown-down trees and dispersed them adjacent to the trail so the sawyers can get easy access."

Ongoing: Highlands Trail, New Jersey section

Volunteer co-supervisors Glenn Oleksak and Adam Rosenberg have been assessing trail damage in the Allamuchy and West Milford Newark Watershed areas. While doing some clearing, they report multiple pile-ups of large trees, particularly in the Echo Lake area.

Hudson Highlands State Park

East Hudson Volunteer Trails Chair Geof Connor reports inspections and clearing of the following trails:

  • Lone Star and Split Rock are clear.
  • Breakneck from 9D to Breakneck Bypass is clear.
  • Undercliff (yellow) from Breakneck to the bridge on Brook (red) has two blowdowns. Whilst they can be detoured; it is slippery rock and not recommended at this time.
  • Brook is clear as is Notch from Brook to Washburn, and Nelsonville Trail is clear.
  • Undercliff from Brook to Washburn is clear.
  • Camp Smith is clear with a few small detours.


A blowdown trimmed by maintainers, ready for chainsawyers. Ward Pound Ridge

A little fresh snow did not stop the Ward Pound Ridge trail maintenance volunteer crew from their weekly rounds at the reservation. Crew participants Mary Dodds, Fred Stern, and Geof Connor, made their priority checking out out the steepest trail in the park, the Fire Tower Trail, and found plenty of work both for themselves with hand saws and for the park rangers with chainsaws. Pictured: The crew trimmed one blowdown so that hikers can easily go over it until chainsawyers have a chance to remove it.




One of too many blowdowns too big for maintainers.

21 Blowdowns Cleared, So Far

Trail Conference Chainsaw Crew Mark Liss and Jack Driller, assisted by Tenafly Nature Center trail maintainers Karl Soehnlein and Pete Tilgner, cleared 21 blowdowns from the Yellow and Red Trails. This is but the tip of the TNC trail blowdown iceberg. The big poplar (right) will require a tool other than the loppers wielded by maintainer Karl Soehnlein. The crew aims to complete sawing through the poplar next Tuesday and also to tackle the White and Bischoff Trails.


Nov. 6. Rockleigh Woods Sanctuary (Bergen Co., NJ); some trails cleared

Volunteers Chris Connolly and Jakob Franke  walked all trails cleared sections of Blue, Yellow, and upper White trails. They report most trails are passable, but  but the upper Yellow Trail, 500 feet south of White/Red junction, has two big trunks blocking trail and the lower White Trail is "a disaster - quarter-mile of trail obliterated by biggest blowdown grove I've seen in past week - approx 25 big trees toppled one after another across trail or alongside." Trail relocation work may be needed.

Nov. 3: Appalachian Trail & Major Welch Trail Cleared at Bear Mountain

Major blowdowns on these trails have been cleared, excluding the area on the south side, below Perkins Memorial Drive. The lower east face was the hardest hit by far, but despite the extensive tree loss, the trail itself remained undamaged by the impacts.