Fêtes afoot: Roundup of National Trails Day events

Hiking the Hudson River School Art Trail at Kaaterskill Falls

This Saturday, June 2, is National Trails Day, an annual event that evolved out of a 1987 report by the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors. The report recommended that all Americans be able to go out their front doors and within 15 minutes, be on trails that wind through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing steps. A coalition of organizations led by the American Hiking Society responded by launching National Trails Day in 1993.

The intent of the annual event is to increase awareness about trails, celebrate the hard work and support of the volunteers, land agencies and outdoor-minded businesses who take care of them and introduce people to the many joys and benefits of trails. National Trails Day 2011 involved 2,063 events, 330,000 participants, 7,626 miles hiked/biked, 799 trail projects completed and 188,833 volunteer hours invested, worth $4 million in labor.


Here in the mid-Hudson, many of us are privileged to have that trail access within 15 minutes of our front doors. But National Trails Day gives us an excuse to go for a trek with a group of like-minded, able-bodied folks or check out a trail that hasn’t been on our usual perambulatory rounds.

For those of us who enjoy the splendors of the Shawangunks on foot, Saturday is a red-letter day: the official dedication of the Mine Hole Trail, a new link in the envisioned Gunks/Catskills Trail Corridor. Formerly the property of Soyuzivka, the Ukrainian Heritage Foundation Center in Kerhonkson, the trail recently became part of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting will be followed by a guided hike led by Jean-Claude Fouere of the Mid-Hudson Adirondack Mountain Club, which has volunteered to maintain the new trail. The round-trip hike will be approximately seven miles and is rated moderately strenuous. Meet at Soyuzivka at 216 Foordmore Road; bring water and lunch. Maps of the new trail links will be available. For details, visit www.nynjtc.org/event/mine-hole-trail-opening-minnewaska-state-park-preserve.

Another Trails Day event in the Gunks is the Sierra Club’s “Shawangunk Service Trip to Gertrude’s Nose Footpath in Minnewaska State Park.” Volunteers are wanted to help spruce up one of the most spectacular and ecologically sensitive trails along the top of the front Shawangunk escarpment. The work will include clipping of blueberry, huckleberry, scrub oak and other vegetation encroaching on the trail. The hiking route is 8.5 miles. Bring cotton work gloves, lunch and at least three liters of water, hiking boots, hat and sunglasses. The Sierra Club will supply the tools. The group will meet to the right of Minnewaska’s entrance gatehouse at 9:15 a.m. and leave promptly for the trail at 9:30.

Another trip of interest to those who are concerned with the condition of our region’s trails will take place on Saturday at North/South Lake State Park to view recent restoration work following the devastation of Hurricane Irene. The Mountain Top Historical Society (MTHS) wants to promote awareness of the necessity for volunteers to maintain trails, as well as of the Hudson River School Art Trail and the upcoming Kaaterskill Rail Trail, both connected to the local history of Greene County. The South Mountain Hike steps off at 9 a.m. from the MTHS Campus on Route 23A in Haines Falls. Bring lunch and drinks. The hike will be followed by a book talk and signing at the historic Ulster & Delaware Train Station at 3:30 p.m., featuring Alan Via, author of The Catskill 67, a new hiking guide for the Catskills. Visit https://mths.org for more info.

There are a whole lot more events going on this Saturday involving the expansion of the the Hudson River School Art Trail, an ambitious project intended to take you to the sites that inspired America’s first great landscape painters. The Trail enables you to walk in the footsteps of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Gifford and other pioneering American artists and to see the landscapes that launched the Hudson River School of Art. The epicenter of the festivities will be the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill.

On June 2, the Hudson River School Art Trail will be greatly expanded; the Trail website at https://cedargrove.squarespace.com/trailthis website will be relaunched and optimized for hand-held devices such as smartphones and iPads; and artists will be invited to participate in a summerlong “paint-out” and to enter an exhibition and competition with a painting of one of the trail views. At 4 p.m. Kevin Avery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will give a lecture on Sanford Gifford and his hiking and sketching trips. Visit www.thomascole.org for more details on the day’s events at Cedar Grove.

Other Art Trail-related events throughout the Hudson Valley this Saturday will include:

– An official ribbon-cutting and press conference at 12:30 p.m. at Hasbrouck Park on Delaware Avenue in Kingston.

– A “Social Media Experience on the carriage drives at the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson: self-guided hikes of the drives with Foursquare and Facebook Places check-ins along the way, and Olana-oriented prizes, based on the amount of ground covered and the use of social media. Visit www.olana.org for details.

– A nine-mile “End-2-End” trek on the Hyde Park Trail at the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt

National Historic Sites in Hyde Park, beginning at 8 a.m. Preregistration is recommended to ensure shuttle bus capacity. Visit www.nps.gov/hofr/roosevelt-vanderbilt-nationalhistoric-sites.htm for more info.

– Sketching Day at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, which was repeatedly the subject of Hudson River artists. Visit https://nysparks.com/historic-sites/17/details.aspx to find out more.

To seek out more places in the region where National Trails Day activities are being organized, pay a visit to www.americanhiking.org/NTDSearchResult.aspx?sId=32.