Category Archives: Family Fun

Celebrate Earth Day with State Parks!

This week we celebrate Earth Day! The first Earth Day was held in 1970 to draw attention to ongoing environmental issues in the United States, such as water and air pollution. Since then, Earth Day has become a global event held every April 22nd in honor of protecting the environment. With over 350,000 acres of park land and waters, NY State Parks play an important role in the protection and stewardship of New York’s natural ecosystems. If you would like to join in the celebration and participate in hands-on Earth Day activities, check out the list below for a sampling of Earth Day events held in State Parks across the state! If you can’t make any of this week’s Earth Day events, join us for Arbor Day programs next week and I Love My Park Day on Saturday, May 7th!

Long Island

Brookhaven National Lab Climate Van
Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center
Friday, April 22, 2022 09:00 AM – 04:30 PM
This pioneering mobile laboratory consists instruments used in their climate research to measure atmospheric variables. Come explore and get a glimpse into the science of forecasting atmospheric conditions. The talks will be on Zoom as well as in person.

Protect the Pollinators Event
Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center
Saturday, April 23, 2022 12:00 PM
Build your own bee or insect house; Guided tour of our Pollinator Garden; Springtime Storytime; and Pollinator Relay Races

Earth Day Celebration Project
Connetquot River State Park Preserve
Saturday, April 23, 2022 09:00 AM
In celebration of Earth Day, please join Friends of Connetquot to plant native plants and ferns along the main road to the Clubhouse. Meet up by the Kiosk in the main parking lot starting at 9 am. Please dress appropriately and bring gloves. To register, please visit www.friendsofconnetquot.org.

Earth Day Hike
Hallock State Park Preserve
Saturday, April 23, 2022 09:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Celebrate our earth home by taking a 3 mile hike through the trails of the Preserve observing all that nature can share with us! All programs meet in the upper parking lot unless noted. Programs led by MaryLaura Lamont. Call for details, reservations at (631)315-5475. Snow/rain cancels programs!!!

Earth Day Festival
Hempstead Lake State Park
Saturday, April 23, 2022 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
The event will include alternative energy activities, up-cycling t-shirt into aprons, make native pollinator seed bombs, and more!

Come to Hempstead Lake to up-cycle a t-shirt!

Niagara

Earth Day Walk
Buckhorn Island State Park
Friday, April 22, 2022 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Happy Earth Day everyone! Joins us for a relaxing walk through the woods and along with Niagara River. For information and registration call (716) 282-5154

Arbor Day Walk
DeVeaux Woods State Park
Friday, April 29, 2022 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Happy Arbor Day! Enjoy a walk through old growth trees. Registration required, please call (716) 282-5154.

Thousand Islands

Celebrate Earth Day!
Point Au Roche State Park
Saturday, April 30, 2022 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Celebrate Earth Day with us! Go on a Scavenger Hunt! Play some Earth Day themed games! Plant a seed to take home! Help clean up the Park! Activities available 10am-12pm. All ages welcome!

Earth Day at Zoo New York
Minna Anthony Common Nature Center
Saturday, April 23, 2022 10:00 AM – 03:00 PM
Come join the Earth Day celebration at the Thompson Park Zoo! Learn about the natural world around you and the importance of protecting our natural resources. Discover new places and ways to enjoy the outdoors. There will be numerous family friendly activities and many different organizations at the event, including the Nature Center! For additional information, please call the Thompson Park Zoo at (315) 782-6180. Preregistration recommended. Please call (315) 482-2479 to register. Face covering encouraged when indoors.

Arbor Day at TILT’s Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail
Wellesley Island State Park
Saturday, April 30, 2022 10:00 AM – 02:00 PM
Celebrate Arbor Day and the Thousand Islands Land Trust’ (TILT) 9th Annual “For the Trees” Celebration by planting trees at the S. Gerald Ingerson Preserve along the Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail. Bring the whole family to get their hands dirty! There will be numerous family friendly activities, workshops, games, and exhibits from TILT and many different organizations, including the Nature Center! For more information, please visit tilandtrust.org or call (315) 686-5345. Preregistration recommended. Please call (315) 482-2479 to register. Face covering encouraged when indoors.

Trees and Climate
Point Au Roche State Park
Saturday, April 30, 2022 02:00 PM – 03:00 PM
Join the park naturalist to explore trees, their important role in the ecosystem, and what they do for us. How can trees help with climate change? What can we learn by studying tree rings? What threats do trees face? Also, learn about Wangari Maathai, a very inspiring conservationist and activist, and how we can follow her example to help trees! Please note this will be an indoor program.

Finger Lakes

Beach Cleanup Event
Sampson State Park
Friday, April 22, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Looking for a good way to give back to your community this Earth Day? Come out to Samson State Park from 12:00pm to 4:00pm on Friday, April 22nd and help us clean up trash and debris along the beach front and cobble shoreline of Seneca Lake. Did you know that the beautiful and State Threatened grows right here at Sampson? Twinleaf is just one of the unique and important species that call Sampson State Park home. Come help us protect this important ecological community and learn about conservation efforts around the state! Feel free to bring work gloves, or borrow ours! Meet us near the beach and look for the FORCES table!

Saratoga/Capital Region

Earth Day Clean Up
Saratoga Spa State Park
Friday, April 22nd, 10:30 AM
Celebrate Earth Day at Saratoga Spa State Park with our most recent park partner, the Children’s Museum at Saratoga! We will work together to make the park a little more beautiful.  At 10:30AM on April 22nd, we will meet at the Lincoln Bathhouse where the Museum’s new Nature Backpack program will be demonstrated. At 11:00AM everyone will head out to help clean up one of the park’s many pathways. Come share in the reward of making a greener, cleaner world! Gloves and bags will be provided. No registration necessary.

Trout Discovery Day
Grafton Lakes State Park
Thursday April 21, 2022 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM
Grafton Lakes State Park is hosting its annual Trout Discovery Day. As the weather gets warmer it is the perfect time to stock long pond with trout. The DEC will be providing trout and Grafton will be providing activities. Come on your own or bring out the whole family, Trout Discovery Day is the perfect event for all ages. Enjoy trout shaped treats, crafts, and educational booths highlighting the wonders of trout! Learn about their habitats, school programs and micro and macro invertebrates. Come help to stock our ponds. The event will be held on April 21 from 11am-1:30 pm, $2 cash per child, ages 6-15. Ages 5 and under and adults are free to enter. DEC will bring trout at 11:30 am. Park at Rabbit Run.

Earth Day Festival
Grafton Lakes State Park
Friday, April 22, 2022 5:00 PM-8:00 PM
Join Grafton Lakes for a family friendly Earth Day festival. Learn about the migration of monarch butterflies, the importance of pollinators, the impacts of invasive species, and much more. Partake in activities, demos, and crafts. This year’s Earth Day theme is to Invest in Our Planet’s Future. Each one of us can make a positive impact from the small to the tall. No registration required. The Festival will be held Friday, April 22nd from 5-8pm. The charge for the festival is $3/person cash, ages 5 and under free.

Taconic

Earth Day Celebration
Rockefeller State Park Preserve
Saturday, April 23 from 10:00 AM – 4:00PM

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 as an act of support for environmental protection. Now, more than 50 years later, Earth Day events are attended by over a billion people worldwide. What better way to celebrate this year than to visit your local Preserve!

Immerse yourself in nature and stop by “education stations” along Brother’s Path from 10 am – 1 pm to learn about topics such as clean water initiatives, sustainability, native plants and pollinators, wildlife conservation, and more!

Start your own native plant garden with our seed planting activity, which will take place every half hour from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm beside Swan Lake. (While supplies last.)

Learn about birds of prey and get up-close and personal with a few of them in a LIVE demonstration from 1 – 2 pm on the Overlook trail. (Please note: no dogs or horses will be allowed on Overlook during this time.)

Participate in a “BioBlitz” to learn more about biodiversity within the Preserve and contribute as a citizen scientist by logging your observations using the iNaturalist app. We’ll meet at the Swan Lake kiosk at 2 pm and venture from there.

Cost: FREE! No registration required. You may want to bring cash for raffles and merchandise. Proceeds support the maintenance of our beautiful carriage roads and landscape. Appropriate for all ages. Rain date: April 24

Winter Sowers Bring May Flowers

Native plant gardening is one of the most important ways to take sustainable action, creating habitat for indigenous wildlife while preventing the spread of invasive species. Growing plants from seed has the benefit of higher genetic diversity than planting nursery stock, which is often cloned.

Better yet, locally sourced seeds are part of the local ecotype, or the genetic variety adapted to your area. The more locally your seed was harvested, the better your garden will help preserve your ecosystem in the face of climate change, invasive species, and other threats to our landscape.

That’s why Rockefeller State Park Preserve held a series of gardening workshops this winter. Yes, you read that right—the gardening season starts in winter! Native wildflowers are adapted to the climate of this region, so they’ve evolved to need the cold of winter to break through the outer coating of their seeds. This is called cold stratification. Sowing by mid-February ensures that your seeds have enough time in the cold to germinate by mid-April when the weather warms up.

While the preserve’s Native Wildflower Seed Sowing Workshops are over, here’s a handy guide to follow along at home.

Sourcing native seeds


The best way to get seeds of your local ecotype is through a local seed collecting organization that already has the licenses and permissions to legally and ethically source seed. It’s important not to attempt harvesting seeds yourself without appropriate licensing and training, as this can threaten the natural population of the plant. Healthy Yards is a coalition of public and private landowners in Westchester County working together to provide locally-sourced seed to home gardeners. If you don’t know of such an organization near you, I’ve added some resources at the bottom of this article. Planting the seeds of a New York native plant is better than planting nonnative nursery stock, even if it’s from a different ecotype.

Preparing your materials


You will need a container and soil. Reuse a plastic salad container or milk jug with a lid to maintain humidity, and punch drain holes in the bottom. Label it with the name of the plant, the date sown, and the expected germination date. For soil, sterile seed starting mix can be bought from nurseries and gardening stores. In a shallow plastic container, moisten the soil by mixing it with hot water with your hands. Hot water and steam will penetrate the soil more quickly than cold water, so you won’t need as much to get your soil just slightly moist. Too much water could lead to seed rot.

Scoop the soil into the container until it’s two-thirds full and gently smooth the surface, without compressing it.

Materials needed: soil, a plastic container with a lid and drainage holes, masking tape and marker for labeling, seeds, and spice shaker with sand. (Photo Credit – D. Mishra)

Sow the seeds


Sow seeds at a depth equal to the size of the seed itself. A larger seed should go in a depression in the soil with a light layer of soil on top, while tiny seeds may be sprinkled on the surface. An easy way to surface sow tiny seeds is to mix them with sand in a salt or spice shaker. The sand will show you how much you’ve sown, and is easier for light to penetrate than soil, sometimes a requirement for native seeds.

Seeds sown with sand, with pencil for scale. These seeds have already germinated, but sand helps with visibility before they have emerged. (Photo credit – P. Butter)

Wait


Seal the container and place it outdoors or in an unheated room. Mark your calendar for the expected germination date. Check the moisture level periodically, giving a spritz of water if they’re drying out.

Germination and Beyond


When the weather starts warming and your germination date approaches, check on your seeds every day to see if they sprout. When you see cotyledons, or the first leaves, remove the lids and place them in the sun. These leaves were contained in the embryo and will not look like the representative leaves of the plant.

Now that the lid is off, you’ll have to monitor the moisture more often. You can place a tray under the container to hold some water to prevent drying out. Once the first set of true leaves emerge, transplant each seedling into its own pot with potting soil and compost. At this point, care for each plant according to its individual moisture, soil, and light requirements.

When they’re big enough, plant them in your garden by mid-June and water daily until they begin to put on new growth. If they aren’t ready to be planted by June, then keep them in pots until fall as they are less likely to establish in the heat of summer.  Continue to water and remove any surrounding weeds or competing plants. Don’t worry if all your seedlings don’t survive or if the plants don’t flower the first year. Some plants take a year or two to get established.

Enjoy watching your seedlings grow to attract bees, beetles, butterflies and other interesting insects. In the winter, leave foliage and seed heads to provide shelter and food for overwintering insects and birds. Your native plant garden will help bridge the gap between nature and your neighborhood.

A native sedge showing its true leaves, ready to be potted. (Photo credit – P. Butter)
Native sedge after being potted in 4-inch plug pots, in a tray of water to maintain moisture. (Photo credit – P. Butter)

Cover Shot – Bluets (Houstonia caerulea), a native spring wildflower that can form delicate carpets of pale blue on dry sunny sites. A classic rock garden plant and groundcover. Photo Credit – State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Post by Devyani Mishra, Flora Steward, Rockefeller State Park Preserve


Resources


Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy is a call to action for planting native plants in your garden that describes how your yard can help your ecosystem.

This website from the state Department of Environmental Conservation lists native flowers for gardening and landscaping.

The following websites can help you find plants native to your area:

Native Plant Finder (By Zip Code) , Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Resource Center, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center New York Special Collection

Here are some responsibly sourced seeds that serve the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions. These sources include plants that aren’t native to New York, so be sure to double check with the New York Flora Atlas that the plant you want is native to your area:

Prairie Moon Nursery, Ernst Conservation Seeds, Eco59, WildSeedProject.net, OPN Seeds, Hudson Valley Seed Company

Here are some native plant societies around New York that may know more about locally sourced seed in your area:

Finger Lakes Native Plant Society, Adirondacks Garden Club, Long Island Native Plants Initiative, Torrey Botanical Society, Niagara Frontier Botanical Society


Holiday Points of Light at Grafton Lakes State Park

Lights have long been associated with the holiday season, along with family, holiday cheer, and guiltlessly indulging in your sweet tooth.

At Grafton Lakes State Park in Rensselaer County, staff chose to embrace that season of light by placing dozens of luminaria along trails for the park’s inaugural annual holiday “Luminary Walk” in December. What are luminaria, one might ask? ( Hint: It is not the plural of luminary.)

Originating in the Philippines after it became a Spanish colony at the beginning of the 16th century, luminaria are small paper lanterns with candles used to mark the Christmas season. Originally made then from bamboo and paper coming from China, the Philippine tradition of luminaria was brought eastward by Spanish traders into the southwestern North America and Mexico when that region was still controlled by Spain.

Today, holiday luminaria as a reflection of a holiday contribution of Hispanic culture are a common sight in the southwestern United States, including New Mexico and Arizona, but have become popular in other parts of the country as well.

To bring that festive glow into the northern forests at Grafton, parks staff led by Tamara Beal arranged for more than 125 luminaria for the festival, while also seeing to it that firewood was stacked, marshmallows were prepped on sticks, and hot coco was steaming by the jugful.

Each light was powered by three triple AAA batteries and each white paper bag required a precisely cut wooden block to weigh down the bag. The maintenance staff cut the blocks and strung lights along the boardwalk for the event. All 125 bags with lights and blocks were put together, loaded up into a utility vehicle and spaced out along a half-mile of trail by staffers Rebecca Milanese and Ava Bassallo.

Check out the slideshow of the luminaria trail below…

Under crystal dark skies and the light of a full moon in December, an unprecedented 900 people showed up for the event and to walk the illuminated paths.

With Holiday music wafting from the Welcome Center back patio, there was a general buzz of happiness and joy. Visitors warmed up by the fire with marshmallow and stick in hand, creating a tasty treat. Children sat down inside stimulating their imaginations to create one-of-kind holiday crafts. Behind the scenes, volunteers and staff members were serving the public, refilling the hot chocolate jug, breaking up pieces of chocolate, restocking the crafts, and more.

The magical illuminated journey began on the boardwalk just beyond the back patio. As the Holiday music faded, a serene silence welcomed the wanderer. Each step in the light a reminder of fond Holiday memories. Up the stairs of the replica fire tower, with a bird’s eye view, the forest twinkled in brilliance. Just beyond the forest, romance rolled on the wind by the lake as many couples opted for a moonlit stroll.

What was originally foreseen by event coordinator, Tamara Beal, as being a small quaint event, left hundreds of people renewed in their holiday cheer in a park dotted with dozens of warm points of light. Thank you to all those who came out and to staff members and volunteers who dedicated their time and contributed to the magic.


Cover shot – Replica Fire Tower with luminaria at Grafton Lakes State Park. All photos by NYS Parks unless otherwise noted.

Post by Tamara Beal, Environmental Educator, Grafton Lakes State Park

Check out future events at Grafton Lakes State Parks here.

Moonlight over Long Pond at Grafton Lakes State Park (Photo Credit – Deborah Balcanoff, used with permission)

***UPDATE***

Interested in attending an upcoming luminaria walk? There is one scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 24, 2021 at Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County. Click here for more details.

Camping in the Round

While State Parks offers more than 8,100 campsites, 825 cabins, and 136 full-service cabins across New York, in the western part of the state, there is another kind of camping option available – yurts.

A yurt is a round fabric shelter on a raised platform, with a roof, door, and windows that provides more shelter and room than a ground tent yet is a simpler accommodation than a traditional wood-framed cabin. The history of yurts traces back about 3,000 years to central Asia, where nomadic peoples used these portable homes as they moved around vast treeless grassland plains, known as steppes.

Yurt is a Turkish adaptation of the Mongolian word “ger” (meaning “home”) originally used to describe such residences, which were meant to be easy to assemble and disassemble as their owners moved with their horses and livestock throughout the seasons. Yurts are formed by a circular wooden lattice wall that supports wooden rafters attached to a elevated center ring, with the structure draped in fabric, originally felt, wool or hides. Being round, yurts were perfectly designed to resist high winds common in the region, since the shape has no corners or flat spots to catch wind gusts.

According to historians, the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan led his vast armies from his command post in a large yurt that moved from battlefield to battlefield.

The historical importance of the yurt to the region is represented in the official flag of the republic of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia. The flag consists of a red field charged with a yellow sun that contains a depiction of a “tunduk,” the opening in the center of the roof of a yurt. This view is what someone might see looking up upon awakening in a yurt

The state flag of Kyrgyzstan, featuring a representation of the center opening in a yurt’s roof. (Photo Credit – Wikipedia)
A Mongolian ger on the steppe at Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in southern Mongolia. (Photo Credit- Wikipedia Commons, Uploaded by Adagio at English Wikipedia)

Easy and quick to build, this ancient design arrived in America during the 1970s as part of the simplified “back to the land” movement, slowly developing a following as an inexpensive form of housing that could be assembled in a day. The structures have been gaining popularity in recent years as a camping accommodation that puts its residents close to nature, while offering more comfort and sturdier protection against the elements than a tent. Modern yurts are meant primarily to be kept in place as semi-permanent structures, although they still can be taken apart and moved if necessary.

Three state parks in western New York now offer yurts as places to camp _ Four Mile Creek and Golden Hill state parks in Niagara County, and Evangola State Park in Erie County. Made from wooden lattice and rafters covered with heavy-duty fabric and insulation, these yurts feature a domed roof, windows, and bunk beds, as well as a refrigerator, microwave, and heating/AC units.

The yurts at both Four Mile Creek and Golden Hill at located closed to Lake Ontario and offer beautiful views. Golden Hill’s yurts are situated so that the decks provide a view of both sunrises and sunsets with Golden Hill’s Thirty Mile Lighthouse in sight. Take a slideshow tour of the Golden Hill yurts below…

At Evangola, the yurts are located next to a fishing pond, and just a short walk to the park’s Lake Erie shoreline.

Campers who have stayed in the yurts tell State Parks that they like it because it’s “in-between” camping in a tent and a cabin, being particularly useful for those who might not have all the gear needed for tent camping.

When the first yurts went up in 2013 at Four Mile Creek, New York State Parks joined a growing number of state parks across the country embracing this form of shelter as a camping alternative.

A yurt at Four Mile Creek State Park with an ADA accessible ramp.

According to industry accounts, the first two yurts in a state park in the U.S. went up in Oregon in 1993. Now, some two dozen state park systems across the country have added yurts.

The yurts in New York’s state parks are 20 feet in diameter, which results in about 330 square feet of interior living space and plenty of head room. While that might seem spacious for those used to maneuvering around a tent, that is a far cry from the largest yurt in the world. The so-called “White Building” (Ak Öýi) in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat, dedicated in 2015, is in the form of a yurt more than 200 feet in diameter that stands about 100 feet high, with three separate stories holding a café, offices, apartments and an auditorium with 3,000 seats!

So, when considering camping at State Parks in western New York, think about trying out a yurt. Three thousand years of history can’t be wrong!

A traditional yurt on a cart in contemporary Kazakhstan. (Photo Credit- Wikipedia Commons/Creative Commons)

Cover Shot- A yurt at Four Mile Creek State Park. All shots credited to NYS Parks unless otherwise noted.

Post by Brian Nearing, Deputy Public Information Officer, NYS Parks

Resources

All reservations for New York State Park yurts, campsites, cabins, and full-service cottages are handled through the ReserveAmerica website.

Happy Trails to You from State Parks

People love New York’s trails! Did you know that State Parks has more than 2,000 miles of trails across the state? And that merchandise featuring trail markers is among the top sellers at the Parks online store?

T-shirts with State Parks trail markers are some of the items sold online in the Parks store.

More people than ever have been using Parks trails during the past ten years, especially during the recent pandemic, as being outdoors offered safe and healthy recreation when some other venues weren’t available. With so many trails, there is always lots of work to do for our trail crews, staff, and non-profit partners to maintain, improve and expand our network. Let’s take a tour of some of what’s been done recently.

To help find your way on the trail, check out the Parks’ Explorer app for smartphones and mobile devices. Available for both iOS and Android devices, the free app offers a range of useful information, including trail maps and a real-time location function that allows users to easily follow along on the park’s map.

Capital Improvements


To help support some of its trail work, each year Parks receives funding through the state budget as part of the NY Works capital program. Some of the program’s largest funded trails projects over the past five years include:

  • $500,000 for the Backcountry Trails Program to repair and restore trails in the Hudson Highlands of our Taconic and Palisades Regions.
  • $400,000 to restore hiking, skiing, equestrian, and snowmobile trails in Allegany State Park in western New York.
  • $250,000 to repair stonework and restore the scenic gorge trail of the Finger Lakes Region.
  • $200,000 for improvements to park trails across the Saratoga-Capital Region.
  • $175,000 for region-wide trail projects in the Thousand Island trails.

Crews working under the Backcountry Trails Program (BCTP) have spent years rehabilitating miles of trail in Hudson Highlands and Sterling Forest State Parks. The program engages AmeriCorps volunteer service members to learn and apply highly skilled trail building techniques from April through October each year.

This past season more than 2,000 feet of trail were rehabilitated and more than 140 stone steps installed on the Washburn and Undercliff Trails in Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve in the Hudson Valley. In the Palisades Region, miles of trail have been added and improved on the very popular multi-use trail system at Sterling Forest State Park. 2022 will mark the ninth year of the BCTP implementing high-quality trail construction projects in our facilities.

A backcountry trails crew works at Hudson Highlands State Park.

Accessible Trails


The Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) project has so far assessed 40 trails in State Parks with a goal of identifying those that could be made accessible for persons with disabilities. Funded through a Federal grant, the project completed its third year of field assessments to find  trails that meet or have the potential to meet federal standards for accessibility.

Learn more about this project in a previous post on the NYS Parks Blog HERE

Partner Projects


On July 1st, the ribbon was cut on the new Nimham Trail in Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, which was completed in partnership with the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail organization. Named for the last Mohican chief in the Hudson Valley, this new trail allows for an easier ascent and safer descent to the popular Breakneck Ridge – but it’s still a challenge! This new trail has over 600 stone steps and climbs 600 feet of elevation in less than a mile. Images below of the the Ninham Trail show, left to right, new stairs, a trail information map, and a new bridge.

In Clarence Fahnestock State Park Preserve, the Open Space Institute (OSI) broke ground on a sustainable multi-purpose loop trail suitable for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. More than 5.5 miles of new or rehabilitated trail have been created as well as two bridges, four boardwalks, and two turnpikes. As a complement to this project, West Point engineering cadets designed and built a multi-use arched bridge to traverse a mountain stream. This is the fifth bridge constructed in partnership with OSI and West Point on the Hubbard-Perkins project.

Cadets from the U.S. military academy at West Point put the finishing touches on their new bridge in the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve.

Interns from the Hudson Valley AmeriCorps of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) had their annual Patriot Day of Service project at Sam’s Point in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. This two-day project created a new 72-foot section of bog-bridge on the Verkeerder Kill Falls Footpath. The popular trail passes through the globally rare dwarf pitch pine barrens and has seen increased use in the past five years. Pictured below, the bog bridges will help mitigate user impacts by keeping hikers’ feet out of wet areas and on the designated path.

Parks Regional Trail Crews Deliver


Saratoga-Capital Region

In 2021 at John Boyd Thacher State Park, trail crews repaired trail, replaced timber steps, and build rock crib-wall on the area’s most hiking popular trail, the Indian Ladder Trail. In Peebles Island State Park, trails were upgraded with new surfacing material and drainage improvements, as well as new trail markers and intersection signage added for safety.  Trails at John Brown Farm State Historic Site in the Adirondacks were overhauled and signage was installed to improve wayfinding.


Finger Lakes

Crews at Buttermilk Falls State Park installed a 56-foot prefabricated fiberglass bridge and set up high-line rigging to lift the bridge into place over Buttermilk Creek. The new crossing now connects hikers safely from the parking lot to the trail by eliminating a hazardous road crossing. Click on the slideshow below to observe the project…

At Chimney Bluffs State Park, the Bluff Trail leading to the visually stunning bluff overlooking Lake Ontario was rerouted this year after being closed since May 2018 due to safety concerns. This project established a new sustainable trail route away from the heavily eroded bluff edge and constructed 170 timber stairs, multiple erosion control features, and added a 225-foot wooden boardwalk to raise the trail over the forest floor.

More than 680 stone and timber steps were installed at Stony Brook State Park to rehabilitate heavily eroded trail sections at the north and south entrances to the park’s main trail.

More than 700 feet of boardwalks and foot bridges were installed throughout the trail system at Ganondagan State Historic Site to replace worn out sections.

Before and After: A new boardwalk at Ganondagan State Historic Site.

Central Region

At Green Lakes State Park, the Green Lake Trail was resurfaced and received drainage improvements over the past three years. Crews also completed a full signage and wayfinding upgrade with a total of 316 new trailhead, intersection, and informational signs, all designed in-house and produced at the regional sign shop.

Thousand Island Region

More than 1.5 miles of new trail were added to Keewaydin State Park. Crews also performed seasonal maintenance on more than 16 miles of trails region-wide and constructed new trail structures including:

Working for the Future


Parks is also keeping an eye on the future for its trails. In our Albany office, planners in the Division of Environmental Stewardship and Planning (DESP) set a roadmap for future trail work through the completion of  the Statewide Greenway Trails Plan which was signed for adoption by Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid in April 2021.

With over 2,000 additional miles across New York, these multi-use greenway trails, like the Empire State Trail and others, are a popular amenity and serve as a critical component of both recreation and transportation. The completed Greenway Trails Plan will be a resource for trail managers and advocates to expand the state’s greenway trail network over the next decade.

Whether it’s hiking, snowshoeing, cycling, Nordic skiing, horseback riding, or even snowmobiling, there’s a trail for you in State Parks. See for yourself all the great work done by our trails crews and partners as you get out into nature’s beauty!

Happy Trails to You from NYS Parks! Come see our work!

Cover Shot: A new bridge built by State Parks trail crews at the Ganondagan State Historic Site. All images by NYS Parks.

Post by Chris Morris, Statewide Trails Program Planner, NYS Parks

Resources


Learn more about the many trails in State Parks across New York in our popular “Get Out and Explore” Blog series:

During winter when there is snowcover, State Parks also offer a variety of trails suitable for cross-country skiing. Find out more in this previous post in the NYS Park Blog.


Trails at more than 30 State Parks are also available for snowmobiling during winter. Click HERE for a listing.