NEW YORK, NY --The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference encourage New Yorkers to vote for The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) in REI’s Every Trail Connects campaign, which kicked off today and will invest a total of $500,000 in trail projects around the country. The New York portion of the 2,185-mile public footpath is one of 10 hiking paths featured in the campaign.
“The popular portion of the Appalachian Trail in Bear Mountain State Park is a wonderful gateway, for hikers ranging from experienced to novice to get a glimpse of the trail’s challenge, of its history, and its splendid natural beauty,” State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. “The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and REI have been amazing partners, continuously supporting our mission of connecting people with nature. Now, we need your help! I encourage all to vote early and often for this trail to receive REI’s generous support.”
The A.T. is one of the most storied and revered hiking paths in North America, if not the world. Spanning 2,189.2 miles from Georgia to Maine, the first section of this "super trail" across the Appalachian Mountains was constructed in 1923 through Bear Mountain State Park by volunteers of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. The lowest elevation point on the trail also happens to be found in Bear Mountain State Park, in front of the Trailside Museums and Zoo’s bear den.
For each vote, REI will invest $5 to the trail selected, up to the maximum of $75,000 per trail. Votes can be submitted at http://www.rei.com/h/trails until $500,000 has been reached. Each device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) is allowed one vote per day.
Edward Goodell, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Executive Director said: “This original section of the Appalachian Trail has been massively and lovingly restored up the face of Bear Mountain by volunteers under the guidance of professional trail builders. We are proud to have the responsibility of maintaining and protecting this important section of trail, and are thankful for the support of our partners and REI as we work on completing the last 1,000 feet to the top. Every vote gets us $5 closer to finishing a safer, more sustainable, and more enjoyable trail.”
Bear Mountain State Park is situated in rugged mountains rising from the west bank of the Hudson River. In addition to the park’s trails, which welcome an exceptionally large number of users due to their location near New York City, the park also features a large play field, shaded picnic groves, lake and river fishing access, a swimming pool, Trailside Museums and Zoo, hiking, biking, and cross-country ski trails. The Perkins Memorial Tower atop Bear Mountain affords spectacular views of the park, the Hudson Highlands and Harriman State Park.
In 2006, the Bear Mountain Trails Project was established to build a sustainable trail system throughout the park, focusing on the original—and still the most heavily used—portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Over the past nine years, more than 1,745 Trail Conference volunteers have logged nearly 65,000 hours of service on the project, completing 65 percent of the trail restoration. The Bear Mountain Trails Project has been made possible through the active support of the National Park Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Palisades Interstate Park Commission, Palisades Parks Conservancy, and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
REI is a longtime supporter of the NY/NJ Trail Conference and Bear Mountain, connecting hikers with the Appalachian Trail. REI offers training hikes and other programming along the A.T. at Bear Mountain and celebrates National Trails Day each June at the flagship park with a large event in partnership with the Trail Conference. Their investment with the Every Trail Connects Campaign is part of $5.9 million that REI is granting in 2015 to more than 300 nonprofits working to create access to more than 1,000 outdoor places throughout the United States.