The Professional Trail Crew’s (Pro. Crew) season began with a week of skills training this year. The first day was spent at Heart Lake where the basics were covered such as tool & equipment safety, proper tool use (rock bar, axe, etc.), and how to set up a high line system. The entire crew then headed to the southern Adirondacks to continue skills training on the recently completed N-PT reroute in the Silver Lake Wilderness Area. A number of different kinds of structures were built including 46 feet of bog bridging, 40 feet of stepping stones, and 8 rock steps. After skills training, the entire Pro. Crew, including the volunteer leaders, participated in a two day wilderness first aid course that was run by Wilderness Medical Associates. To finish up training, the entire crew embarked on two days of patrols on trails primarily in the Eastern High Peaks Region. The High Peaks patrols occur annually every spring and the emphasis is to clean out all existing drainage structures (rock waterbars, ditches, etc.).  Almost all of the drainage structures were installed by past ADK trail crews. Up to four different crews patrolled over 46 miles of trail and removed 74 pieces of blown down trees. Training and patrols were made possible by funding that was provided by the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.

Catskills – Region 3

On the McKenley Hollow Trail off of Route 47 near Big Indian, the Pro. Crew spent seven weeks repairing damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.  Close to 100 rock steps with waterbars and a short re-route now make this section of trail easier to navigate and is protected from future erosion. The crew will spend two or three more weeks in 2015 to complete maintenance on the trail, which will include more rock steps and water bars.

Catskills – Region 4
The Pro. Crew returned to the Elm Ridge Wild Forest near Windham to build more multi-use trail. This year the crew built just over a mile of trail with 156 feet of new drainage ditches and 37 rock steps. The trail traverses through multiple talus slopes and small drainages. To properly construct a well-drained trail in those conditions, well over half of the trail tread is comprised of crushed stone and was capped with mineral soil. Over 34 feet of dimensional lumber bog bridges and a seven foot long rock bridge were also constructed to keep the new trail section well drained. The new section of trail is best accessed from the southern side of Elm Ridge. The beginning of the new trail is located approximately three tenths of a mile from the trailhead at the end of Peck Road. For the 2015 season, plans are in place for an ADK crew to build more trail on the north side of Elm Ridge adding to the popular network of trails that was built by ADK in previous seasons.

Late in the season, the Pro. Crew was selected to install split rail fencing on the Kaaterskill Falls Trail. The fencing was installed to discourage hikers from scrambling onto extremely dangerous areas outside of the designated hiking trail. The project was a collaborative effort, as the ADK crew received critical technical and logistical support from the DEC Region 4 Operations Crew, as well as from New York State Parks and Recreation Thatcher Park Operations Manager. Over the course of three weeks, 456 feet of fencing was installed. The work called for the digging of approximately 40 post holes, dug below the frost line. In some instances the crew ran into boulders when digging the postholes. A two inch diameter carbide auger drill-bit was used to allow a steel pipe to be placed into the boulder. The bottom of the fencepost was then bored with an auger bit, so that it could be slid over the metal piping.

Adirondacks – Region 5
After seven weeks, an ADK Pro. Crew completed the first 3.5 miles of the N-PT reroute in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. Along with grubbing in a full bench for the 3.5 mile stretch the entire corridor needed to be side cut and 85 blown down trees were removed. Starting off of Gifford Valley Road, the new route climbs 700 feet in elevation to Mud Lake. The route then continues west towards West Stony Creek. Next season, an ADK Pro. Crew will continue working on the reroute. The route will ultimately join with the new N-PT section in the Silver Lake Wilderness that was completed in 2013 at the Woods Lake trail head located on the Benson Road. The most confounding part of the Shaker re-route is the bridge needed to cross West Stoney Creek. The shortest span that was located that could accommodate a bridge is 90-100 feet. Now that a bridge site has been selected, the design and materials needed to construct it will be scrutinized by the DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency staff to determine what is allowable under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. A decision either way will take at least the rest of 2015 to make which means the earliest a bridge could be built would be 2016. Until a bridge is constructed hikers will be
required to ford West Stony Creek.

The Hurricane Mountain Trail from route 9N has received a face lift so to speak. Practically the entire trail has been rerouted. A DEC Forester completed the trail layout. ADK’s Pro. and volunteer crews both worked on the trail. Volunteer crews worked below the boardwalk and built about a half mile of trail in a week’s time. The Pro. Crew grubbed the upper 1.5 miles. To cut out this section, the Pro. Crew removed over 200 pieces of blown down trees. To harden erosion prone sections, 20 rock steps were set and 290 feet of drainage ditches were established.

The Pro. Crew completed the first phase of a four year plan to repair the eroded trails on Mt. Colden. This multi-year project is being funded by the Adirondack Forty-Sixers in collaboration with the DEC. The first phase consisted of two weeks of work on and near the summit, installing 270 feet of dimensional bog bridging. In addition, the Pro. Crew installed 17 feet of wooden steps. All of the lumber for the project was flown in via helicopter by the DEC. The next phase of the project, slated to begin August 2015, will see the replacement of 66 feet of wooden steps and 400 feet of bog bridging on the L. Morgan Porter Trail between the north summit of Colden and above Lake Arnold.

The Sleeping Beauty Trail had a rude awakening when our Pro. Crew came to Lake George. Over the course of three weeks, the trail crew installed 36 drainage structures and completed an eleven mile side cuttting patrol throughout the trail network on and around the Sleeping Beauty trail. Along with side cutting and drainage clearing, 53 blown down trees were removed from the trail corridor.

Adirondacks – Region 6

For the fourth season in a row an ADK Pro. Crew returned to work on the Mt. Arab Trail. In three weeks, 31 rock steps were set with over 200 square feet of scree rock lining the sides of the staircase.  On Coney Mountain an ADK Pro. Crew worked for one week putting the finishing touches on this popular hiking trail. Nine waterbars, 216 square feet of rock turnpiking, and two stepping stones were installed.  Over the course of four weeks in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area, a crew installed over 60 feet of native log foot bridges over the Chub Lake inlet and outlet. These bridges also included a 64 cubic foot bridge abutment. In addition, 33 feet of native bog bridging was installed over a muddy section of trail that led to the outlet stream bridge crossing. The crew finished a few days early, and with the additional time, they patrolled 3.1 miles of trail and side cut 1.3 miles of trail on the adjacent Constable Pond Trail.

Labrador Hollow Unique Area – Region 7
Wrapping up what turned into a three year endeavor, the Tinker Falls access trail project is now complete. Starting at the end of April, an ADK Pro. Crew installed the final 137 rock steps needed to provide a stable and safe route for hikers to access the area behind the falls. The DEC provided all of the quarry cut stone for the steps and delivered them to the base of the staircase in the winter months. From there, each stone had to be highlined into place using a nonmotorized Griphoist®. In addition, the crew lined both sides of the staircase with 790 square feet of scree rock in order to protect the surrounding soil from erosion. The crew also installed 42 stepping stones, and an 84 cubic foot stone retaining wall.

Photo Credits: Pro Crew- Dove Henry, McKenley Hollow- Adam Johnson,  Kaaterskill Falls-Tania Barricklo (Courtesy of the Daily Freeman), Hurricane Trail- Amy Stafford,  Packing in-Jay Kepes, Chub Lake- Rebecca VanDerWende