About Us

Our Vision and Mission

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is a volunteer-powered organization that builds, maintains, and protects public trails. Together with our partners, we strive to ensure that the trails and natural areas we share are sustainable and accessible for all to enjoy for generations to come.

 

Our Values

  The joys of nature belong to everyone. 

All people—regardless of age, ability, or location—should be able to experience the rewards of connecting with nature.

  Environmental conservation is a shared duty.

We must preserve the integrity of our natural world—not only to sustain our trail systems, but to ensure future generations can enjoy the outdoor experiences a healthy planet has to offer.

  Volunteers are our superheroes.

Creating and protecting trails is a labor of love. We celebrate our volunteers—their passion, dedication, and leadership make the trails we all love possible.

  Respect is essential to success.

In our partnerships, we exercise the same courtesy we advocate for on the trail, and we strive to be a trusted source of information and expertise for the trail community.

  The right path is always a responsible one.

We take land stewardship seriously and approach every decision—whether we’re out in the field or in our headquarters—with balanced judgment and firm conscience.

  Sustainability is fundamental to a healthy organization.

We will generate and raise an appropriate level of awareness and income to support the needs of the organization.

Range View

1920s
1920: Major William Welch, William Bell, Raymond Torrey, and J. Ashton Allis meet informally to plan system of trails in Harriman State Park. NYC-area hiking clubs join to form the Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference
1921: First trail, 24 mile-long Tuxedo-Jones Point Trail (now Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail), completed through Harriman. Benton MacKaye proposes Appalachian Trail
1922: Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference is reorganized as the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
1923: First section of A.T., 20 miles through Bear Mountain-Harriman State Parks, opens. First edition of the New York Walk Book, by Torrey, Frank Place, and Robert L. Dickinson, published by the American Geographical Society
1925: Appalachian Trail Conference formed
1927: Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail blazed


1930s
1930: NY-NJ Trail Conference's Section of A.T. (160 miles) complete and in use. Vincent Schaefer proposes Long Path.
1931: Trail Conference is “reinvented” to unite hiking clubs and end “trail wars”
1934: Bill Hoeferlin starts "Hikers Region Maps" series
1937: Appalachian Trail route completed from Maine to Georgia
1939: Trail Conference contributes to purchase of land north of Anthony's Nose to protect it from quarrying


1940s
1941: World War II brings drastic decrease in trail activities and closing of Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain Bridge
1942: Trail Conference adopts constitution and sets up permanent committees


1950s
1950: NY-NJ trail network achieves 422 miles
1958: Incorporation of NY-NJ Trail Conference. Leo Rothschild, conservation chair, completes New York metropolitan area land preservation study; recommends saving Sterling Forest


1960s
1960: Robert Jessen revitalizes interest in the Long Path
1963: NY-NJ Trail Conference and the Nature Conservancy cofound the Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference
1964: Long Path reaches 130 miles from George Washington Bridge to Catskills
1965: United States Circuit Court of Appeals landmark decision blocks Con Edison's Storm King plans
1968: U.S. Congress passes National Trails System Act, proposing the protection of entire Appalachian Trail
1969: Trail Conference membership is opened to individuals


1970s
1970: Map committee formed. Trail Conference begins publishing trail maps, previously published by Bill Hoeferlin. Trail Conference opens first permanent office, in NYC
1975: Trail Conference hires first Executive Director, James Robinson
1979: Marriott Corporation proposes massive development in Shawangunks; Trail Conference organizes to fight the project


1980s
1982: New Jersey becomes first state to purchase its section of A.T. corridor
1985: Trail Conference begins fight to save Sterling Forest. Marriott Corporation gives up plans for development in the Shawangunks
1988: Trail Conference and Appalachian Mountain Club co-found Sterling Forest Coalition. Long Path "missing link" in Catskills completed, opening the way to the north


1990s
1990: Trail Conference begins adopting trails in the Catskills
1991: Trail Conference reaches the 1,OOO-mile mark for trails maintained
1992: Trail Conference establishes Sterling Forest Defense Fund
1993: Dedication of 36-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail. Launch of the 150-mile, Hudson to Delaware River Highlands Trail
1995 Vistas & Vision - A History of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is published.
1996: Farny Highlands trail network begun
1997: Undercliff Trail on Breakneck Mountain completed
1998: Sterling Forest State Park becomes a reality when New York State takes title to the first 14,500 acres. More than 7,000 additional acres would be added over the next five years.  


2000-05
2000: The first Sterling Forest trails map—the Trail Conference’s first all-digitally-produced map—is published.  Highlands Trail celebrated as New Jersey’s Millennium Legacy Trail
2002: Pochuck bridge and boardwalk on the A.T. dedicated. Trail Conference initiates formation of Shawangunk Ridge Coalition, which joins efforts to stop development
2004: Trail Conference initiates trail work in New York City with the adoption of trails in Alley Pond Park and Forest Park, both in Queens


2005-10
2006: Work begins on the Bear Mountain Trails Project, including the reconstruction of the A.T. on Bear Mountain. Trail University inaugurated. Sterling Forest “doughnut hole” protected. Invasive plant tracking project begun in conjunction with Rutgers University
2007: Darlington Schoolhouse purchased to become new Trail Conference Headquarters. Trail Conference hosts ATC Biennial Conference at Ramapo College of New Jersey with the help of 387 volunteers
2009: Highlands Trail in New Jersey extended to and across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Walkable Westchester published. Off-road vehicle legislation enacted in New Jersey after a 10-year fight 
2010: Marks 90 years of building, maintaining, and mapping trails. Opening of 700-plus rock steps on relocated section of the Appalachian Trail celebrated at Bear Mountain.


2011
  • A groundbreaking ceremony for the restoration of the historic Darlington Schoolhouse as the Trail Conference’s future headquarters is held.
  • The Professional Trailbuilders Association names the Bear Mountain Trails Project “Project of the Year.” 
  • The West Jersey Trail Crew completes its six-year project building a new, nearly 7-mile-long trail within Jenny Jump State Forest in Warren County. 
  • In a milestone for the Bear Mountain Trails Project, the All-Persons Trail—the first mountaintop section of the A.T. that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines—opens on Bear Mountain. 
  • The Invasives Strike Force trains over 100 volunteers to identify a set of 14 common, widespread invasive plants. In its first season, volunteers of the ISF survey more than 132 miles of trails. 


2012
  • Trail Conference maps go digital, becoming downloadable via the Avenza Maps app. 
  • The Appalachian Trail Conservancy celebrates the Town of Warwick, N.Y., as an Appalachian Trail Community, the first in the New York-New Jersey region to be granted this designation. 
  • A 1,600-foot-long boardwalk and 34-foot bridge for the Appalachian Trail is built over the Swamp River and associated wetlands in Pawling, N.Y.
  • The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation chooses the Trail Conference to coordinate its Lower Hudson Valley Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) program beginning in 2013.
  • The Trail Conference and others bring a lawsuit against the Borough of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., after the borough amended its zoning code to permit construction of buildings 150 feet in height along the Palisades Interstate Park. Any building at that height--including a proposed new headquarters for LG Electronics USA--would mar the surrounding viewshed.


2013
  • Dover and Pawling in Dutchess County, N.Y., are designated jointly as an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Trail Conference. They become known as the Harlem Valley A.T. Community. 
  • The Trail Conference welcomes its first class of AmeriCorps members in the inaugural season of the organization’s Conservation Corps. Members are assigned to three separate projects: invasives monitoring and removal, and trail building at Bear Mountain and Sterling Forest. 
  • In an effort to keep hikers safe, a Trail Steward program is launched at Breakneck Ridge. 
  • The first phase of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail project opens on National Trails Day. 


2014
  • The New York Department of Environmental Conservation asks the Trail Conference to take the lead role in the Catskill Conservation Corps, managing all volunteer activities in the Catskill Forest Preserve.
  • After decades of planning and three years of field work by more than 100 volunteers, the new, 9-mile stretch of Long Path in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area of the Catskill Mountains opens. 
  • The Trail Conference is named winner of the 2014 New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in the Environmental Education (adult-led) category for its Trail University program.
  • By donating 93,214 hours of their time for trails, 1,740 volunteers help break a Trail Conference service record.
  • The Trail Conference reaches the milestone of being responsible for the maintenance of 2,000 miles of trails.
  • The Trail Conference joins the fight against two casino resorts proposed for Orange County—one in Sterling Forest State Park, the other adjacent to Harriman State Park. Neither project receives a license from the state.


New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Headquarters
2015
  • The Trail Conference officially opens the doors at its permanent headquarters at the historic Darlington Schoolhouse in Mahwah, N.J. Festivities include a grand opening honoring the organization’s 95th year. 
  • The Trail Conference and the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO) team up to create the Ramapo Earth Crew, a partnership that combines the Trail Conference’s trail-building experience and resources with MEVO’s strong youth volunteer presence. 
  • LG Electronics USA announces a redesign of its proposed new headquarters overlooking the Palisades in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. The settlement is an amicable end to a three-year battle in which the Trail Conference played an early and leading role within a coalition opposed to the high-rise development.
  • In its fifth year, Invasives Strike Force volunteers reach more than 1,000 miles of trails surveyed.


Members Display Block

Our Board
15 MEMBERS
Our Board of Directors provides leadership for the Trail Conference.
Alan Davidson
Board Director
Barbara Evans
Board Director
Carol Ann Benton
Board Director
Charles Gadol
Board Secretary
Trail Conference Board Member David Felsenthal.
David Felsenthal
Board Director
Emily Hague
Board Director
Felicity Arengo
Board Director
Juan Melli
Board Director
Kalyan “Kal” Ghosh
Board Director
Ken Posner
Board Chair
Mary Ann Villari
Board Director
Michael Pashley
Board Director
Sara Kleinberg
Board Director
Seth Reichlin
Board Director
Sreeni Nair
Board Director
Our Staff
30 MEMBERS
Our staff provides operational and management support for the Trail Conference.
Andrew Rosenthal-Baxter
Field Trail Builder
Arden Blumenthal
Conservation Dogs Program Coordinator
Ashley Nester
Community Outreach Coordinator
Ben Copp
Advancement & Store Associate
Ben Sugar
Ben Sugar
Senior Trail Builder
Brent Boscarino. Photo by Heather Darley.
Brent Boscarino
Director of Land Stewardship
Cynthia Germana
Finance & Operations Associate
Don Weise
Don Weise
Director of Donor Advising
Hank Osborn
Director of Programs
Jacqueline Hanley
Grant & Contract Manager
Jennifer Zack
Jennifer Zack
Charitable Gifts + Events Manager
Jeremy Apgar, Cartographer
Jeremy Apgar
Cartographer
Jesse Merbler
New Jersey Program Coordinator
Joshua Howard
Executive Director
Kathleen Bezik
Operations & Human Resource Specialist
Katie Kourakos
Volunteer Engagement Manager
Krysti Sabins
Stewardship Communications Coordinator
Mary Perro
Mary Perro
Chief Financial Officer
Melissa Cascini
New York Program Coordinator
Mike Morris
Volunteer Engagement Associate
Myra Romano
Trail Steward Program Coordinator
Nancy Krause
Conservation Corps Program Coordinator
Pat Gallagher
Advancement Director 
Paula Sandusky
Finance & Operations Senior Associate
Peat the Conservation Dog. Photo by Arden Blumenthal.
Peat
Conservation Dog
Peter Dolan
Trail Program Manager
Robert Delap
Field Trail Builder
Ryan Goolic.
Ryan Goolic McClean
Ecological Stewardship Program Manager
Tori Finn. Photo by Heather Darley
Tori Finn
Conservation Corps Manager
Zachary Cole
Long-Distance Trails Program Coordinator
Volunteer Leaders
38 MEMBERS
Our volunteers provide leadership for on-trail work throughout the region, chair program areas such as advocacy, publications, and technology,and represent the Trail Conference to our park partners.
Alan J. Davidson
Catskills Trails Local Trails Committee Chair
Amy Arato Northwest Jersey Trails Committee Co-Chair
Amy Arato
Northwest Jersey Local Trails Committee Co-Chair
Andrew Seirup
East Hudson Local Trails Committee Chair, Bash Bish Trail Crew Chief, Eash Hudson Trail Crew Chief
Andy Garrison
Andy Garrison
Conservation Committee Chair, Long Path North Local Trails Committee Chair
Brian Sleigh
Dutchess/Putnam Appalachian Trail Local Trails Committee Chair
Charles Gadol
Catskills Long Path Local Trails Committee Chair, Catskills Regional Trails Committee Chair
Chris Connolly
Chris Connolly
Palisades Ramapo East New Jersey Local Trails Committee Chair, New Jersey Regional Trails Council Chair
Chris Ezzo
West Hudson South Trail Crew Chief
Chris Reyling
Long Distance Trails Crew Chief
Trail crew member Connie Stern.
Connie Stern
Westchester Trail Tramps Crew Chief
Daniel Hoberman - Board Counsel
Daniel Hoberman
Morris East Local Trails Committee Chair
Danny Abbazio
West Hudson North Local Trails Committee Chair
David Day
West Jersey Trail Crew Chief
Dawn Rivera
Wyanokies- Ramapo West Local Trails Committee Chair
Don Tripp.
Don Tripp
West Jersey Local Trails Committee Chair
Ed Spirko
West Hudson South Local Trails Committee Chair
Eric Friedman
Catskills Lean-to Crew Chief
Gary Haugland
Highlands Trail East Local Trails Committee Chair
Glenn Oleksak
Highlands Trail West Local Trails Committee Chair
Howie Liebmann
Northwest Jersey Local Trails Committee Co-Chair
Joe Motisi
Habitat Helpers Leader
John Jurasek
Publications Committee Chair
John Magerlein
Policy Council Chair
Shawangunk Trails Map Scenic Photo
Jordan Snyder
Southern Shawangunk Ridge Local Trails Committee Chair
Volunteer Leader Kevin McGuinness
Kevin McGuinness
Long Path South Local Trails Committee Chair
Michael Pashley
Michael Pashley
East Hudson Regional Trails Council Chair, Westchester Trail Tramps Crew Chief
Volunteer Leader Moe Lemire
Moe Lemire
Appalachian Trail Orange-Rockland Management Committee Co-Chair
Monica Day
West Jersey Trail Crew Chief
Nick McKenna
Farny Bearfort Ridge Local Trails Committee Chair
Rich Jobsky
West Hudson Regional Trails Council Chair
Rich Rockwell. Photo by Rich Rockwell.
Rich Rockwell
Invasives Strike Force Crew Leader
Appalachian Trail marker
Rich Weiler
Appalachian Trail Orange-Rockland Management Committee Co- Chair
Ron Rosen
Appalachian Trail Coordinating Committee Chair Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee (A.T. Conservancy)
Rose Bonanno
Westchester Local Trails Committee Chair
Hiking boots. Photo by Adobe Stock.
Sam Litton
Catskills Lean-to Chair Region 3
Snapper Petta
Snapper Petta
Catskills Lean-to Chair Region 4
Steve Siegard Long Path North Trails Chair
Steve Siegard
Long Path North Local Trails Committee Chair
Steve Weissman
Appalachian Trail NJ Management Committee Chair
Member Clubs
43 CLUBS
Hiking with one of the clubs is a great way for beginners to learn both about how to hike and where the trails are. Many of the member clubs welcome guests on hikes!

What We Do

 
The Trail Conference works with thousands of volunteers and partners across the region to build and maintain a network of more than 2,150 miles of public trails.

 

Minnewaska Cove, Catskills - Photo Steve Aaron
 
The Trail Conference establishes programs that protect open spaces at both the state and local levels. This work includes acquiring new public lands, monitoring invasive species, and educating the public.

 

 

The Trail Conference publishes the most up-to-date maps and hiking guides in the region, as well as news and hiking resources to keep hikers safe outdoors.

 

Become a Member

25%
TRAIL CONFERENCE BOOKS AND MAPS
Membership in the Trail Conference gives you opportunities to take part in volunteer projects and training workshops, and entitles you to discounts at many outdoor stores. Don't take your access to nature for granted.

Our Partners

Save
PARTNER DISCOUNTS
Save money when you shop! Our partners offer Trail Conference members who show a valid membership card 10% discounts, except where noted.

Business Reports

The Trail Conference is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 organizations that have a combined menbership of over 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.