National Trails Day: Celebrating Trails, Connecting With Nature

June 10, 2019
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New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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National Trails Day: Celebrating Trails, Connecting With Nature
National Trails Day trail building volunteers. Photo by Popular Mechanics.

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Thank you to all who came out to celebrate and give back to trails!

On June 1, nature lovers and outdoor adventurers throughout the region joined the Trail Conference and our partners to celebrate and give back to trails in honor of National Trails Day. Created by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day is observed every June across the country. The day recognizes the power trails have in connecting people with nature.

At Trail Conference Headquarters, 300 people took part in our National Trails Day Open House festivities, featuring guided hikes and stewardship opportunities next door at Ramapo Valley County Reservation. The day kicked off with a warm welcome from American Hiking Society Executive Director Kathryn Van Waes and Trail Conference Chief Operating Officer Joshua Howard.

“Seeing communities come together to celebrate, steward, and advocate for trails is what American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day is all about,” said Van Waes. “The Trail Conference’s Open House brought together incredible partners to highlight the essential conservation work volunteers do day in and day out throughout New York and New Jersey. The Trail Conference set the bar by coordinating such a fantastic event.”

“On National Trails Day, we celebrate and thank everyone who makes trails a part of their lives,” said Howard. “For almost 100 years, Trail Conference volunteers have been giving their time and energy to create great trail experiences for everyone who looks to refresh their minds and bodies in the woods. Because trails are for everyone—and they’re only possible when we all come together as a community, not just today, but every day.”

Co-hosted by Popular Mechanics, the event included tours of our historic Darlington Schoolhouse building, raffle prizes, a food truck, and outdoor organizations encouraging year-round engagement with nature. Fifteen volunteers helped the Invasives Strike Force remove nearly 180.5 pounds of the invasive garlic mustard and restore the native landscape at Headquarters. Four volunteers joined Trail Conference Conservation Corps trail crew members making improvements to the Vista Loop Trail. Trail snacks were provided thanks to Nature Valley, Tasty Bites, Popular Mechanics, and ExtremeTerrain.

Building Trails, Building Community

At Ringwood State Park, nearly 40 trail lovers came together on National Trails Day to build their next adventure and make improvements to the multi-use Crossover Trail. Held in partnership with JORBA (Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association), the Trail Conference, and REI, a high-spirited group of hikers and bikers worked together clearing close to 400 feet of new trail and hardening areas with stone. Brandee Chapman, New Jersey State Trails Coordinator, and Eric Pain, Ringwood State Park Superintendent, visited the group to express their gratitude and excitement about the day’s accomplishments and partnerships. Kristen Phillips from REI’s Tri-State Outdoor Programs and Experiences team helped coordinate the day, provided volunteers with REI stewardship T-shirts, and joined in the fun of getting dirty while doing good work.

“REI was happy to be part of this National Trails Day project with JORBA and the Trail Conference because it’s really special when groups join forces on new trail design,” Phillps said. “This multi-use trail at Ringwood will be a benefit to mountain bikers and hikers alike when it’s complete.”

Want to help finish the project? Visit jorba.org/calendar for info on future build days.

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