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.
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!
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!
Probably the “Blackberry Loop” would be a better name for the trail — and those fast-growing canes have made travel a little tricky in some spots. Join the CCC pop-up response team as we reclaim the Huckleberry Loop for hikers. Should be fun in a prickery-scratchy kind of way!
Friday July 31, 9 a.m., meeting in Margaretville, NY — plan for a full day. Bring a bag lunch, consider long sleeves and long pants, and leather work gloves. We’ll supply tools and encouragement!
For more details or to sign up, submit the form below, or email Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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 websiteso we can maintain an accurate headcount for the day.
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.
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!
The 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.
The public is welcome to join and you do not need to be a member of the Trail Conference to join the Trail Crew. No experience is necessary, the crew will provide the tools and the training on site before you get started. Please make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our trail building activities; pack plenty of water to stay hydrated; bring work gloves; and bring a bag lunch.
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.
Will 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 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.
Since 1986 the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has been hosting volunteers to participate in trail projects. In that time over 10,000 volunteers have taken part in maintaining the trails in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. ADK’s volunteer program is not just about the trails though. They can be certain that all 10,000+ volunteers who participated in the ADK volunteer program left with a sense of stewardship for the New York State Wild Forest and Wilderness areas. They know firsthand how much hard work, and how rewarding it is to keep our parks in tip-top shape.
The ADK will always remain dedicated, not only to continue with our volunteer program, but also to look for ways to expand and improve upon it. It is with that attitude that they decided to double the amount of volunteer opportunities next summer. The additional projects will focus on the trails in the Adirondack Park’s Eastern High Peaks and in the Catskill Park.
This year the work in the Catskills will consist of two 5-day high school volunteer outings. Students aged 14-17 will participate in hardening eroded sections of trail on Wittenberg Mountain and on the Mary’s Glen Trail. The participants will be camping at either the North and South Lake State Campground or the Woodland Valley State Campground. Volunteers are welcome to join us for some or all of the work as we take care of the trails of the Catskills.
The first project will run from July 29th-August 3rd on the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide trail. The work will focus on installing drainage structures, and rock steps on the lower sections of the trail. The second project will run from August 5th-10th on the Mary’s Glen trail near North and South Lake. The work will focus on installing stepping stones, and drainage structures on the lower sections of the trail.
For more information regarding all of ADK’s volunteer opportunities please visit www.adk.org.
To indicate your interest in this work complete the form below. We will send your information to ADK and they will contact you to let you know how you can get involved.
A partnership between the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation providing volunteer opportunities to the public on projects that protect natural resources and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in the Catskill Mountains.