Tag Archives: Trail Maintenance

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.

Volunteer Opportunities with the Catskill Mountain Club

The Catskill Mountain Club (CMC) is seeking volunteers for two upcoming trail maintenance outings. Warm sunny days and plenty of rain mean the vegetation has been growing and the trails need some love! Can’t make a CCC worktrip, but still looking for a way to pitch in? Contact the CMC and check out their opportunities!

Click here to see the upcoming events and volunteer opportunities available via the CMC.


We Came, We Saw, We Marked: The CCC Hosts a Trail Marking Clinic on AHP

Trail Marker

“That first hiker out here after a deep snow, maybe it’s their first time on this trail, and let’s say it’s also just starting to get dark. That’s the hiker I keep in mind when I work on marking a trail,” suggested DEC Forester Ian Dunn, as he led a crew of 8 through the process of selecting the best tree, and attaching the marker. “There’s definitely an art to it,” he acknowledged. Sighting from marker to marker, managing tricky curves in the trail, and explaining the differences between marking a trail in the wild forest versus the wilderness were all fully explained by Forester Dunn. A hands-on approach meant that elegant solutions to onsite challenges were crafted as the group worked together to mark a solid mile or so of trail.

The Forest as Classroom
The Forest as Classroom

Participants with connections to every major hiking club in the region attended this trail marking clinic and trail work day. Clipping, lopping, pruning and digging for approximately 4 miles and many more hours on the scenic Ashokan High Point trail in Olivebridge, NY, the volunteers worked side by side with Forester Dunn and CCC coordinator Heather Rolland. Over a dozen waterbars were cleared, ensuring their continued functionality and thus the prevention of erosion. Pesky and tenacious laurels were clipped back to allow comfortable passage through the beautiful forest. And breath-taking views, good food, and hiker chat (do copperhead snakes *really* smell like cucumbers?) made for an all around fabulous day in the Sundown Wild Forest.

Awesome crew!
Awesome crew!

Are you bummed that you missed out on this peach of a day? Don’t be – just join us next time! Stay tuned for upcoming adventures in volunteering! Who knows – you too could find yourself tussling with the CCC’s mascot, Peeka Mouse, over a Rogue hoe!

"I am an innocent puppy. I have no idea what you mean about that Rogue hoe."
“I am an innocent puppy. I have no idea what you mean about that Rogue hoe.”

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!

Notes From The Field: Welcome, Summer!

Summer solstice, Father’s Day, and some super Catskill Conservation Corps activities made for a busy and fun weekend in the Catskills!

On Saturday, June 20, a star-studded cast of characters taught and learned side by side on the scenic trails of the Southern Escarpment. NYS DEC Ranger Rob Dawson and the Trail Conference’s Catskill Program Director Doug Senterman, along with Heather Rolland of the Catskill Conservation Corps (CCC) taught the Introduction to Trail Maintenance course on the trails. Hands on learning at its finest, volunteers assessed blowdowns and used a variety of tools to remove them, cleared water bars and learned about their construction, and clipped encroaching branches. In total we cleared about 3 miles of popular trails, and enjoyed some killer views as well. We were joined by two hardworking Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns, Kalvin Murphy and Louis DiLorenzo, who helped out and learned alongside our volunteers.


June 21 became an impromptu “undergraduate litter picking day” as the SCA interns returned with a volunteer from SUNY Geneseo! Heather led these intrepid litterpickers through the mess just off the trail at Overlook Mountain, removing 10 bags of nasty stuff from the woods. The ugly eyesores have were removed amid shouts of “hey! Look at this! Dude! Look what I found!” and as always, lots of laughter. Afterwards ice cream and people watching in the village of Woodstock rounded out the day.

11426492_10205493910999567_1558835337845331855_o 10994061_10205493910959566_6903024147799067255_o11105252_10205493910919565_9136145184721864488_o

The CCC wishes to thank DEC and Ranger Dawson for the advance planning regarding the Introduction to Trail Maintenance course. In order to learn in the field, we needed a number of different problem types and learning opportunities. Ranger Dawson made sure we had a great trail to work on – plenty of all manner of challenges with amazing views to enjoy. It was perfect!

Read the full follow-up press release for our workshop

Another big thank you to the SCA interns and their supervisor, NYS DEC forester Ian Dunn, for their role on Saturday – helping to fetch and carry, as well as pitching in and participating in the workshop. They also get kudos for working hard on a miserably muggy Father’s Day, picking up trash and swatting mosquitoes with good cheer.

Our next event is another litter pick up, this time near Kingston, NY, at Onteora Lake on July 5. Stay tuned for all the details on how you too can make friends, whistle while you work, and have a blast while making a difference. Volunteering in the Catskills is cool, even on the hottest of summer days!


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


From the Field: Huntersfield Vista Maintenance & Sprucing up the Spruceton Trail!

Huntersfied Vista Maintenance
Volunteers dressed warm with a day that featured snow, sleet and rain while the vistas were being maintained! Just a late May day in the Catskills!

Huntersfield Vista Maintenance: On May 20, volunteers and staff from the CCC assisted DEC staff members in clearing three vistas located on the yellow loop trail around the summit of Huntersfield Mountain located just north of the Catskill Park. Shawn Smith of Operations and Ranger Jeff Breigle led the crew; volunteers acted as swampers. The approved work for this project was completed and all three vistas have been restored.

Special thanks to all DEC staff involved. It was a real treat for volunteers to work with a professional sawyer – Mr. Smith is a surgeon with the saw! In addition, Ranger Breigle invited feedback and fostered communication among volunteers about the aesthetics of each vista, such that volunteers felt empowered to offer suggestions and feedback. For volunteers to be able to see a vista open up before their very eyes was magical – they were thrilled. The weather was awful, which just added to the allure of the day.

One of the trail clearing volunteers!
A rare Catskills chupacabra sighting or just one of the volunteers who helped clear brush along the Spruceton Trail?

Sprucing up the Spruceton Trail: On May 21, volunteers assisted DEC and Trail Conference staff in trail work on the Spruceton Trail. We worked for approximately 4 hours, removing piles of cut limbs and small trees from the side of the trail. The material was pulled back into the woods, alleviating the eyesore. We each removed approximately 20 piles of brush in a section of trail roughly .25 miles long. We estimate another .75 miles of trail still remains in need of this type of work.

Special thanks to Ranger Christine Nelson who drove us halfway up the trail to increase time spent working on the project. One of our volunteers was not familiar with the Catskills and had never been on Hunter Mountain before. She was truly delighted with her first experience – a ride in a ranger truck, hearing the Bicknell’s thrush calling, the incredible views from the fire tower!

Spruce up the Spruceton Trail on Hunter Mountain on May 21, 2015

IMG_2709The Catskill Conservation Corps and the Trail Conference’s Catskills Trail Crew will be working on the Spruceton Trail on Hunter Mountain this May.  The Trail climbs Hunter Mountain from Spruceton Valley.

On this trip we will be working to clear brush and other materials from along the trail as it makes its way to the summit of Hunter Mountain from the Spruceton Road Trailhead.

Please make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our trail maintenance activities; pack plenty of water to stay hydrated; bring work gloves; and bring a bag lunch.

The public is welcome to join us. No experience is necessary, we will provide the tools and the training on site before we get started.


To register, you can contact the trip leader, Heather Rolland at 518-628-4243 or you can complete the form below.