A woman has almost finished crossing a weathered wooden suspension bridge over a body of water

Photo by Joanne Kennedy

Trails guide us. To a destination, yes, but more importantly, trails take us on a journey. They provide a path to discovery, ask us to ponder our place in the universe, and sometimes compel us to face our fears. On the trail we can be carefree, primal, and truly alive. Trails quietly draw us into a personal and respectful relationship with the land. And trails, built durably and responsibly, help protect our wild places.

Will you give today in support of trails?

Nearly a century ago, trails were the sole inspiration for ADK’s founding, and today we remain deeply committed to safe, enjoyable outdoor recreation. This year is the 40th anniversary for ADK’s Professional Trail Crew (Pro Crew). From the beginning, our crews have relied on muscle power, hand tools, and primarily native materials to build and reconstruct backcountry trails. Generations of volunteers have dedicated hours upon hours clearing trails, and teens have learned life lessons and useful skills during week-long projects.

Your tax-deductible donation helps maintain these important programs and ensures unforgettable trail experiences for generations to come.

Pro Crew 2003 – Silas Chamberlin

Silas and the rest of the 2003 Pro Crew

Silas (center) and the rest of the 2003 Pro Crew

“My biggest takeaway was that trails don’t happen by chance. People and organizations work very hard to thoughtfully design, construct, and maintain trails, and trails are incredibly important to how we experience nature. I became fascinated with the idea that ADK and similar organizations had been doing this type of work for decades.

When I returned to college, I decided to study environmental history. Ultimately I earned my PhD by studying the history of hiking and writing the first history of the American hiking and trails movements, On the Trail: A History of American Hiking.”

High School Trail Project 2018 – Devon Strauch

Devon on Jones Hill, 2018

Devon on Jones Hill, 2018

“On the hike in, the only thing on my mind was getting to camp. The idea of putting my pack down and letting my feet rest felt like a dream. We trudged through the bugs and sweltering heat with the most awkwardly shaped packs strapped to our backs. But as much of a struggle as it was, it was most definitely worth it . . . This campsite was incredible. The shore of the lake was less than twenty feet from the lean-to, and the view of the lake was stunning . . .

Knowing how far from everything I was and being disconnected gave me the freedom to enjoy the sights and smells of the pure forest air even more. This program really helped me to appreciate nature and the simple things in life. Five days without any connection to the outside world changed my perspective on my life. I learned so much about how important it is to appreciate the many things we consider “routine.’’’

Many of the trails you have experienced in the NYS Forest Preserve have been impacted by ADK trail crews. Over the decades, countless bog bridges, ladders, and retaining walls have been constructed by the Pro Crew and volunteers, improving your safety and comfort. Last year alone, ADK crews patrolled 121 trail miles, installed 265 rock steps, and built 137 feet of stream-span bridges. And those numbers don’t include the additional work of ADK’s regional chapters.

Well-designed, maintained trails safeguard natural resources, reduce erosion, and ensure hiker safety. ADK has proudly been at the forefront of this ongoing effort, thanks to the support of caring people like you.

Please help sustain trails, protect wild lands, and foster stewardship with your gift to ADK. Thank you.

Happy trails,


Neil Woodworth
Executive Director and Counsel

P.S. The careful stewardship of our beloved wild places depends upon you. Please support ADK’s boots-on-the-ground actions with your tax-deductible donation.