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The Bear Mountain Trails Project
2013 Work Season is May 4-October 13, Wednesday-Sunday, 8:30am to 4:30pm
After October 13, weekends only
Find upcoming workshops at Bear Mountain on the Trail U schedule.
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 1,000 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 2006-2012, 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 BearMountain@nynjtc.org.
We work from 8:30am - 4:30pm, Wednesday-Sunday, starting on May 4th through October 13th. After October 13th, work trips will be on weekends only, weather allowing, for the remainder of the work season.
Every 3rd Saturday of the month is Ladies Work Day! Female volunteers and Trail Builder Ama Koenigshof will work on a seperate project from male volunteers on these dates focusing on using mechanical advantage and body mechanics to make our muscle work for us.
Work trips led by Trail Conference's on-staff trail builder/educator, interns, and professional trail builders from Tahawus Trails LLC involve a variety of tasks, such as: prepping work sites, quarrying stone, using an overhead highline to transport stone, creating crushed stone (with mash and sledge hammers), building crib walls, setting rock steps, and splitting stone. Bring your lunch, plenty of water, sturdy workshoes, and long pants. Tools, materials, and training will be provided. Also provided are gloves, safety glasses, and hard hats, which are REQUIRED while on the worksite.
Bear Mountain far from home? Volunteer at Bear Mountain and stay at our camp nearby. Contact Ama for more info.
To sign up for a worktrip:
Contact Ama at 616-337-2481 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 streneous!
Leaders: Ama Koenigshof - Project Manager, Trail Builder/Educator, NYNJTC
Chris Ingui - Professional Trail Builder, Tahawus Trails LLC
Matt Hawes - Professional Trail Builder, Tahawus Trails LLC
Eddie Walsh - Professional Trail Builder, Tahawus Trails LLC
Aaron Norwood - Americorps Intern, NYNJTC
Kevin Simpson - Americorps Intern, NYNJTC
Michael Miller - Americorps Intern, NYNJTC
Get your trail building skills up to speed with Trail-U!
Saturday, September 7: Introduction to the Bear Mountain Trails Project
Sunday, September 15: Tool Use and Safety
Saturday, September 21: Stone Crib Wall Construction
Saturday, September 28: Stone Splitting and Shaping
Sunday, September 29: Rigging for Trail Work
For more information on any Bear Mountain Trails Project activity or to sign up for a workday, contact BearMountain@nynjtc.org.
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