Hikers need trails — and trails don’t just happen!
Have you ever wondered who maintains the “trails near me”? The paths upon which we hike, walk, and climb in New York and New Jersey are carefully planned, constructed, and maintained to keep them accessible to Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) members and the public. Trails must be situated to minimize erosion, to allow safe passage, to avoid wet, marshy areas whenever possible, and to safely traverse the wet areas impossible to avoid. Once constructed, trails must be maintained to clear fallen trees, to maintain signage and markings to keep hikers from getting lost and to keep pathways clear of new growth. All too often, trails experience significant negative impacts including intrusion by ATVs, massive storms, and forest fires. In such instances, major repairs are necessary before the trails can again be used by the hiking community.
AMC’s New York-North Jersey Chapter has a long history of maintaining trails in the region. The Chapter is a founding member of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, an organization founded in 1920 to build and maintain hiking trails in the New York-New Jersey region. The Chapter currently maintains 83 miles of trails, including 80 miles under the Trail Conference umbrella, of which 27 miles are located on the Appalachian Trail. Another four miles of trail are located on New York City parkland, at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.
Trails maintained by the Chapter are generally the responsibility of individual volunteer maintainers who, having been trained in basic trail maintenance, adopt a trail or section of trail with the goal of keeping it in good repair. Maintainers report to Chapter regional supervisors, informing them about trail conditions, maintenance performed and special needs (after massive storms, for example).
The New York-North Jersey Chapter’s regions are East of Hudson, West of Hudson, New Jersey, and Urban. Sometimes trail workshops or trail maintenance events are held, providing member volunteers the opportunity to provide a gratifying public service, learn basic skills, and to try out trail maintenance to see if the activity suits them prior to adopting their own trail section.
If you are interested in the challenge of getting muddy, dirty, and sweaty, and would love the gratification of stewardship of your own section of beautiful trail, contact the Trails Committee Chair and cc: the West of Hudson Trails supervisor.