As the Adirondack Mountain Club closes its centennial year, it’s important to note the hard work behind building trails and maintaining backcountry areas of the Adirondacks that has sustained these recreational networks since 1922. While we’ve covered ADK’s Summit Steward Program, the other driving force behind the club’s success is the team of trained staff doing incredibly physical labor across the over-2,000 miles of trails—the Professional Trail Crew. Read up on some of ADK’s most recent projects below to get a better understanding of the maintainers of our beloved Adirondack Park.

“Founded in 1979, ADK’s professional trail crew is New York’s premiere wilderness trail work program. Using only hand tools and human power, crew members work throughout the summer to build sustainably designed trails in remote Adirondack backcountry locations. Whether it’s building turnpikes in backcountry passes or constructing cairns on the summits of high peaks, our professional trail crew is up to the task.”

Setting rocks, buildig water management infrastructure, step and cairn construction are just a few things the trail crew take on using only hand tools and human power. Most recently, the crew and volunteer groups finished the first phase of a new and improved Mount Jo Long Trail. Serving over 15,000 hikers a year, Mount Jo is an iconic mountain in North Elba that is often visited by first-time outdoor recreators—in 2020, it was noted for needing an upgrade. “Through sustainable trail design, the new Mount Jo Long Trail increases hiker safety and reduces impacts to surrounding vegetation and soils,” says ADK Trails Manager Charlotte Staats.

Another project included a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to improve access at Silver Lake Bog Preserve, “a publicly accessible 98-acre property that features a boardwalk that winds through an ancient peatland bog, the unsung hero of carbon capture, hardwood forests, and spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.” Work included rebuilding a bridge, rerouting unsustainable trail sections, and establishing a formal trail to the bluff viewpoint, which includes wooden ladders to increase safety and protect the Preserve. The improved trail travels 1.5 miles through the Preserve and features a 200-foot bluff overlooking Silver Lake and Whiteface Mountain.

Trail Crew at Silver Lake Bog. Courtesy: Adirondack Mountain Club

“Every year, ADK has more than 150 volunteers involved in volunteer trail projects and adoption programs,” said Staats. “With 2,200 miles of trail and over 200 lean-tos in the Adirondack Park to maintain, our volunteers are playing a major role in ensuring that people can continue to access and enjoy this amazing landscape.” This year, ADK volunteers spent over 8,000 hours giving back to the Adirondack Park through trail work. A job well done to the Adirondack Mountain Club team! If you’re interested in joining professional trail crew builds as a staff member or volunteer, visit adk.org/trail-work/. To see all upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit adk.org/volunteer/.

Other ways to support:

  • Educate fellow hikers through ADK’s Trailhead Stewardship Program (TSP)
  • Care take at a Campground (greet and assist ADK staff)
  • ADK membership (helps provide tools and resources to the trail crews and program educators— you get some parking perks and deals on lodging and guidebooks)
  • Adopt a Lean-to / Maintain a Trail or make a donation
  • Give back when you purchase an EMS x Cotopaxi ADK Teca, where 20% of proceeds go to ADK’s 2023 projects!
Courtesy: Nick Dagenais