Tag Archives: Trail Maintainer

The Wildberry Whippersnappers

Ask me what my favorite part of the CCC’s Wildberry Whippersnapper Day was and I’d be hard pressed to select just one moment. Was it the pouncing coyote we passed on the way to the trailhead? Maybe learning that the volunteer working side by side with me had to hurry off by noon because she was volunteering at the Glimmerglass Opera House later that evening? It might have been the sense of triumph upon reaching our other team’s end point, deep in the forest, and knowing that we’d cleared the entire trail. But it also might have been that wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I used my new folding saw to carefully and safely remove fallen trees from the trail.

weapons of blackberry destruction
weapons of blackberry destruction

Blackberries and raspberries, while thoroughly delicious, are tough, invasive, and very thorny. They do not make good hiking companions. Cutting them back involves metal weed whips, eye protection, long sleeves, and a sense of humor – hence the Wildberry Whippersnapper epithet. Our trusty mascot, Miss Peeka Mouse, was not in attendance as swinging sharp metal blades was deemed a bit risky for the pup. Safety first, as always!

They look so innocent...
They look so innocent…

We were blessed with great weather and a great crew and a job well done. Next up for the CCC? Ashokan 2: The Revenge has been rescheduled – the new date is August 13. Come on out for another full day of fun and games and hard work and cookies on Ashokan High Point on the 13th, and clear your calendar on Sunday, September 6 for a litter pick up and campsite clean up at Blue Hole. And finally – don’t forget the volunteer picnic on September 12 at the Catskill Interpretive Center. Celebrate a great season of volunteering with your fellow volunteers!

AHP 2: The Revenge on Thursday August 13, 2015

New date! There are so many volunteer opportunities and so much trail work to be done, I guess a collision every now and then is inevitable! We crossed wires with another trail maintenance effort, but hey — no big deal – we’re flexible! The new and improved date for AHP2: The Revenge is August 13, 2015 — and we have some very special news about this trip! Read on for all the details!

Sequels are a time honored tradition, and who are we to argue with tradition? We had such a great day on AHP at the Trail Marking Clinic, the Catskill Conservation Corps invites volunteers to come back to this peak for another trail maintenance day on Thursday, August 13, at 9:30 a.m. to finish what we started. Side clipping, clearing waterbars, removal of brush and blowdowns, and installation of new trail markers are our tasks and we look forward to another fun-filled day on a gorgeous peak! And — this just in — volunteers will assist DEC staff in clearing a vista — so come on out and enjoy the view!


Volunteers should be sure to wear hiking boots and clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. Dress appropriately for the weather and activities; pack plenty of water and a bagged lunch; and bring work gloves if you have them. CCC staff will provide the tools, tips and tricks, enthusiasm, good cheer, and some yummy treats!

And if your heart is set on being in the woods on August 6, no worries: click here for volunteer opportunities led by the Catskill Mountain Club on that date!

Register using the form below, or email Heather at hrolland@nynjtc.org. Pre-registration is required.

Trail Marking Clinic: July 23

The Catskill Conservation Corps is at it again! This time it’s a fun-filled day on Ashokan High Point, featuring a little trail work and a lot of learning. Join NYS DEC Forester Ian Dunn as we learn and practice all there is to know about marking a trail. Forester Dunn will demonstrate and guide volunteers in proper use of trail markers. Learning to mark trails is fun and easy, but doing it correctly is key. Properly marked trails are unobtrusive to the eye and safe to travel – and in compliance with the Catskill Park State Land Master Plan.

Ashokan High Point is a gorgeous peak, filled with wildlife and wildflowers and a truly unique blueberry meadow up near the summit. Fascinating ancient rock cairns line the trail at one point, and the trail parallels Kanape Brook for the first mile or so. The views are quite spectacular, and the entire hike offers a wide variety of trail types, from woods road to single track. There are some rock scrambles and steep sections on this trail, and the total distance is approximately 8 miles. This is a fabulous hike, a heavy favorite among veteran Catskill hikers.

The CCC will provide tools for the trail maintenance we’ll be doing on our way up to the summit. We’ll focus on side clipping, waterbar clearing, and removal of any small blowdowns or debris in the trail. Come prepared to be outdoors all day, with plenty of water and a bag lunch and anything else you might need to enjoy a full day in the woods (sunscreen, bug spray, your basic day pack items, etc). We’ll also provde some light refreshments, so be sure to register so we know how much to bring!

To register, contact Heather Rolland (hrolland@nynjtc.org or by phone at 518-628-4243) or by using the form below:

Trail work makes you smile!
Trail work makes you smile!

Notes from the field: Dealing with the Devil

The Devil’s Path, Indian Head Project

Thank you, Hurricane Sandy: what had once been an interesting and challenging scramble had, over the years become an all but impossible spot to negotiate. Fallen trees combined with a large rock ledge to create the perfect storm of a mess. The DEC operations crew removed the downed trees and made the area passable once more, but ultimately the decision was made to improve the treadway in that spot.

blowdown from Sandy on the Devil's Path
blowdown from Sandy on the Devil’s Path

I know what you’re thinking: difficult scrambles make the Devil’s Path what it is – a tough and exciting trail to hike. No argument here. But when an area on a popular trail becomes too difficult for folks, they start seeking alternative ways around… and that can be a problem. In a sensitive, high elevation ecosystem, making the trail the most attractive place to put your boots has real merit. Besides protecting slow-growing and unusual plants and limiting the impact on bird nesting habitat, a well-designed trail with good tread prevents erosion and holds up to heavy use. The Devil’s Path is a backpacker destination, and every weekend sees hordes of heavily laden back country campers huffing and puffing up these pitches. Making the trail the best option is worth the effort.

2015-07-09 08.43.40
Cal Johnson and the SCA intern crew, plus canine assistant

The instructions to volunteer team leader Cal Johnson were simple: improve the tread without sacrificing the rugged and wild quality of the trail. Do not attempt to tame the Devil’s Path! Two full work days and 4 interns later, the tread improvement project has been completed. Five rock steps were installed in the lower area, approaching the ledge. The footing is solid and secure, and the area is still challenging but doable. You will still need to lift small dogs and children, but the rest of us human and canine hikers will be able to manage just fine. Oh, and did I mention that it looks great?

halfway finished!
halfway finished!

Interested in learning rock moving techniques? Want to learn how to build awesome stone steps like the ones Cal and the SCA interns built? Think you’d like to help out on another section of the fabled Devil’s Path? Contact the CCC to learn about upcoming opportunities in rockwork! Click here, fill out the form, and put “rockwork” in the comment section. Looking forward to rocking out with you!

CCC Mascot, PeekaMouse, says "Volunteering makes you look fabulous!" We tend to agree!
CCC Mascot, PeekaMouse, says “Volunteering makes you look fabulous!” We tend to agree!

Free Introduction to Trail Maintenance Workshop on June 20

Volunteers taking part in an Introduction to Trail Maintenance workshop
Volunteers taking part in an Introduction to Trail Maintenance workshop

On Saturday, June 20, 2015 join the Catskill Conservation Corps and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference on trails around North and South Lakes as they teach you about the basics of trail maintenance in the Catskills.  You’ll learn what goes into keeping the hundreds of miles of Catskills trails open and discover how you can get involved in being a steward of the Catskills.

At this free workshop on the trail from 10am to 3pm, our instructor and Catskill Conservation Corps staff member Heather Rolland, will be teaching attendees the basics of trail safety, what tools are needed for the job, and you’ll be hiking the trail learning how maintainers clear back brush and weeds and remove fallen trees from the trail.  The local New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Ranger will also be joining us to talk about the work of the Forest Rangers in the Catskills.

Through the field work, participants will learn about the assessment of trail conditions, clearing, trail marking, proper use of tools and how to report any trail problems they may come across on their segment of trail.

Be prepared to spend the day on the trail as part of the field training. Make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and trail work; bring a bag lunch; pack plenty of water and snacks; and bring work gloves.

Refreshments and snacks will be served.

This event is free and open to the public.  Please register below using the form or register on the Trail Conference website so we can maintain an accurate headcount for the day.

Press Announcement for Workshop


Free Introduction to Trail Maintenance Workshop April 12 in Fleischmanns

Trail Crew members cleared the route of the new trail
Trail maintenance work gets you outside and on the trail! The Intro to Trail Maintenance workshop teaches you what you need to know to get involved as a volunteer trail maintainer in the Catskills!

The Trail Conference‘s Second Sundays at Spillian series continues with a free workshop on the basics of trail maintenance in the Catskills on Sunday, April 12 from 1pm to 4pm.

This workshop will provide participants with the skills necessary to properly clear, maintain and improve a hiking trail so it is easily passable for fellow hikers and the trail itself is harmonious with the environment. Through a few hours of field work, attendees will learn assessment of trail conditions, trail clearing, trail marking, proper use of tools and how to report any trail problems they may come across on trail that they ware working on.

Be prepared to spend a few hours on the trails around Spillian as part of this workshop.  Make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and trail work; pack plenty of water; and bring work gloves.

Refreshments will be served.  This event is free and open to the public. Please register on the Trail Conference’s website so they can maintain an accurate headcount for the event.


About the Presenters:

Will SoterWill Soter is the Trail Conference’s Trails Chair for the southern Catskills, CEO and Lead Guide of Upstate Adventure Guides,  and a registered New York State Guide.  Will has years of experience exploring and hiking throughout the Catskills and as a guide, he strives to provide a superior level of wilderness guidance, while maximizing the visitor’s experience.

Heather RollandHeather Rolland is an avid Catskills hiker, on staff with the Trail Conference as the Catskills Program Coordinator, a member of the Board of Directors of the Catskill 3500 Club and is currently working on her Catskills All Trails Patch.

Adopt a hiking trail in the Catskills

Hiking Trails in the CatskillsAdopt a hiking trail in the Catskill Park!

Do you love and enjoy the hiking trails of the Catskills? Want to give back to those trails?

Get involved and join Trail Conference volunteers and member clubs who maintain miles of hiking trails in the Catskill Park and the neighboring Catskill Mountains region.

The strong smell of balsam, the famous Devils Path and Long Path, two peaks above 4000′, and the best fly fishing around.  These are all things you’ll be able to enjoy while working on your adopted trail!

The Trail Conference is responsible for maintaining over 200 miles of trails in the Catskill Park and the surrounding region and almost always has an opening for a new trail maintainer.

Trail maintainersTrail segments available for adoption range in length from one to two miles and span the difficulty range from easy to difficult hikes. We work with potential trail maintainers to identify a section of trail that is right for their abilities and needs.

If you are interested in adopting a trail in the Catskill Mountains, please complete the volunteer information form and indicate that you are interested in Trail Maintenance.  That information will be forwarded to the Trail Conference who will will contact you with information on trails that are available for adoption.

In order to adopt a trail, a trail maintainer must be a member of the Trail Conference.  Free training is available through trail maintenance workshops, Trail University, and through individualized training with Trail Conference trail leaders.

Adopt a hiking trail (be sure to indicate you are interested in trail maintenance!)