The Bear Mountain Trails Project

stone splitting

Check Below For Weekly Crew Updates!!!

Get Involved! Click to be added to our email list!

Work trips led by NYNJTC's on-staff trail builder/educator, the Bear Mountain field manager, and Americorps members involve a variety of tasks, such as: prepping work sites, quarrying and/or splitting stone, using an overhead highline to transport stone, creating crushed stone (with mash and sledge hammers), building crib walls, setting rock steps, and revegetation. 

Bring your lunch, plenty of water, sturdy workshoes, and long pants. Tools, materials, and training will be provided. Gloves, safety glasses, and hard hats, which are REQUIRED while on the worksite, will also be provided.

Every 3rd Saturday of the month is Ladies Work Day!  Female volunteers and Trail Builder Ama Koenigshof will work on a separate project from male volunteers on these dates focusing on using mechanical advantage and body mechanics to make our muscles work for us.

 Bear Mountain far from home?  Volunteer at Bear Mountain and stay at our camp nearby.  Contact Ama for more info.

Coming from NYC and don't have a car?  Take the Metro North to Garrison Station and we will pick you up.  You must arrange with Ama a minimum of 24 hours in advance.

To sign up for a worktrip: Click here to check our crew schedule!

Contact Ama at 616-337-2481 or [email protected].  Please wait for either an email or phone confirmation from us prior to attending a worktrip to confirm so we know whether to expect you and what tools to prepare. Do not just show up without a confirmation or you will be turned away.

Please phone/email the leaders for any needed clarification of meeting location and driving directions. Worried about a weather cancellation? - call the leaders between 7:00 and 8:00 that morning.

Be Advised: These work trips are strenuous!

Leaders: Ama Koenigshof - Project Manager, Trail Builder/Educator, NYNJTC - 616-337-2481 - [email protected]

Kevin Simpson - Bear Mountain Field Manager, NYNJTC

Get your trail building skills up to speed with Trail-U

Trail-U courses are offered free of charge at Bear Mtn. throughout the season to gain insight and experience in the field and learn trail building skills. Check out our informational video!


 For information on anything concerning the Bear Mountain Trails Project contac[email protected]

AT Steps of Bear Mtn

The Bear Mountain Trails Project (BMTP) is a major trail building and rehabilitation effort managed by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference in cooperation with its partners: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The project is designed to rehabilitate and rebuild the trails on Bear Mountain as well as educate the public.  The project includes a major relocation of the Appalachian Trail, the restoration of the Major Welch Trail, the restoration of the Suffern Bear Mountain Trail, the construction of a link trail from the Suffern Bear Mountain Trail to the pine flats area on the Lower East Face section of the Appalachian Trail, and the construction of the Trails for People Exhibit and accessible trail.  The most significant of these construction efforts is on the Appalachian Trail, which has been re-routed numerous times on Bear Mountain since its founding in 1923 due to erosion caused from the trails 100,000+ hikers a year. This erosion on the A.T. was the catylist for the conception of the Bear Mountain Trails Project.

This section of the Appalachian Trail on Bear Mountain will feature over Intalling a stone step with a highline1,000 hand-hewn granite steps and over 1 mile of tread way supported by stone crib walls. Each step and wall stone has been and will continue to be split and shaped from rocks on site and maneuvered into place either by hand or via a series of overhead cables rigged up in the surrounding trees. With each step measuring 4-5 feet long, weighing in at around 1,000 pounds, and in need of moving distances of up to 300 feet without the aid of motorized equipment, the Trail Conference has sought out professional trail builders from all over the country to lead the construction effort and train hundreds of volunteers. From 2006-2014, volunteers from The NY-NJ Trail Conference, Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Student Conservation Association (SCA), Rockland County Americorps, and the Boy Scouts of America among others have traveled to Bear Mountain to receive free training as part of The Trail Conference's innovative Trail University program. This program was founded on Bear Mountain at the start of this project and has enabled the Trail Conference to provide free workshops for volunteers seeking to learn both basic and advanced trail building techniques. These workshops have provided for a revival of the masonry skills utilized in the 1930's by the CCC when constructing much of Harriman State Parks roads, walls and buildings. The first section of the Appalachian Trail relocation was opened on June 5th, 2010 (National Trails Day) and consisted of roughly 700 steps. A second section including an AT loop and nearly 1/2 mile of fully accessible trail on the top of Bear Mountain was oficially opened on June 6th, 2011 (National Trails Day).There will be continued opportunities to get involved in this historic project through 2016. Those interested in more information regarding Trail U. or volunteering on the project can do so by clicking on the attached links or by emailing [email protected].


Bear Mountain Day Hikes

Crew Update June 18, 2014

Attention Ladies!! Ama (Professional Trail Builder/Educator),Caitlyn, Jaime, and Ellie (AmeriCorps Crew Members) are ready, willing, and able to lead you into the wonderful world of trail work this Saturday June 21st, so come on out and work with us! Last week was a challenging one with some of our machinery needing belt replacements, heavy rain and slippery slopes challenging the crew's fortitude, but the smiles shone through the thick fog and the newly bloomed mountain laurel reminded us why we love our office. Despite setbacks our volunteers helped us build new crib wall, surface trail, and de-duff sections of trail for some more building this week. Come see why our job is so rewarding! 

Crew Update June 25, 2014 

Happy Summer!! Boyscout Troop 78 volunteered their first day of summer to help us close down some old section of trail (THANK YOU!!) and, despite the bedrock and roots that seemed determined to thwart our trail building efforts, we had a productive last week (thirty-five plus square feet of new crib wall!). VOLUNTEERS, this weekend June, 28th and 29th we are offering two Trail-U courses. These classes are complimentary of the NYNJTC. So follow the link [email protected] and join us for a Stone Splitting and Rigging class (a 2 for 1!) or Canycom Training and help us get new surfacing up the mountain and on the trail. 

Crew Update July 2, 2014

Last week was jam-packed with learning opportunities and the volunteers had a great time. Trail Builder, Ama Koegnishof taught a rock drilling and splitting class on Saturday and everyone had ample opportunity to practice with the drill,sledge, feathers, and wedges to create rocks that we'll use in crib wall and as steps in the near future. Thanks to David and Sam, a father/son duo, who came out on Sunday and split rock and moved it via highline for the first time. They were naturals! 

Crew Update July 16, 2014

So much to do and so little time! (That's what it seems like anyway.) The crew and our volunteers have devoted some time in the past couple of weeks to using our newly learned rock splitting skills in order to replenish our supply for on-going cribwall and staircase construction. After splitting rocks, it is still a large feat to move them closer to our site using sweat, brawn, and the high line (30 plus rocks moved in one afternoon). Ladies Day is Saturday, July 19th and Cribwall Trail-U is on Sunday...c'mon out!!

Crew Update July 23, 2014

No better place to experience nature than when you are in it; that's just what Nature's Place Day Camp did with us last week. This group of youth came out with us last Friday and got some hands-on experience using a grip hoist and they were all smiles:) This Friday we are hosting a day in honor of our Veterans which involves a hike from the top down Bear Mountain, lunch, and then an afternoon work session if the Vets feel so inclined. We are also looking forward to moving a lot of granite steps up the slope so we can get some staircases in place. Let's hope this heat doesn't melt the crew!

Crew Update July 30, 2014

The number of visitors to Bear Mtn. on any given day of the summer is great and least week was no exception to the rule. In addition to the people who came to hike and barbeque, however, were a fantastic number of volunteers working on the trail. Groundwork Hudson Valley Green Team (a summer youth employment program), members of the Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans, and four weekly volunteers were all out putting forth noble efforts to help the crew get things done. The Warriors and Vets enjoyed a morning hike while learning the how-to's and why's of creating sustainable tread from Field Manager, Kevin Simpson before putting their knowledge to work in the afternoon. The Green Team experienced using the griphoist and teamwork to move massive stones necessary for the project and how to build cribwall.   

Crew Update August 6, 2014

Crib wall and staircases!! We've spent much time during the last several weeks drilling, splitting and flying rocks. We piled them up and enjoyed our new quarried rock as a lunch spot, but dang that piled dwindled quickly last week. They're now in some new sections of trail and the rock pile must be replenished! C'mon out and lend us a hand!

Crew Update August 20, 2014

HELLO FROM THE CREW!!! (Ama, Kevin, Jaime, Ellie, Joe, and Cait)

Crew Update September 3, 2014

Wowzers the leaves are changing already!!, but its been some glorious weather to be working in the great outdoors these past couple of weeks. The work has been tiring, fun, interesting and we are seeing the very real results of our labor~ beautiful stonework! Join us on Bear Mtn. and show us that determined work ethic; you may just surprise yourself.

SplitRock NewCribwall NewCribandStair

Crew Update October, 8 2014

Fall is upon us!  We will work into the winter as long as volunteers are willing so please contact Ama at least 48 hours in advance if you want to come out!  We've got stairs to build!



New York Times - Spring 2010

Spring 2010 Newsletter

Spring 2009 Newsletter

Backpacker Magazine 2008-Bear Mountain Trails Project voted #1 trail building project in US.

AT Steps at Bear Mtn. State Park.jpg273.75 KB