Last weekend, ADK hosted its first major volunteer event since 2019. Over 50 volunteers turned out for ADK Trails Day at the Heart Lake Program Center, where they restored a bridge on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, placed new markers on ski trails, and started defining a rerouted Long Trail on Mt Jo.

A man pulls an oil drum

Seth Jones

“I’m ecstatic to have them back,” said Andrew Hamlin, ADK Trails Coordinator, during the event. “There are over 2,000 miles of hiking trails in the Adirondack Park. Volunteers are crucial to our ability to maintain and improve as many of these trails as possible.”

One of the lesser-known consequences to the pandemic was lost volunteer time. With programs cancelled or limited, it is estimated that the Forest Preserve lost 6,700 hours of ADK volunteer support in 2020, a loss that was felt among Adirondack Park stewards and advocates.

But 2021 will tell a different story. As the pandemic improves and restrictions ease, ADK is excited to welcome back its many volunteers, who will once again play a key role in helping protect the Adirondack Park. And you won’t just see them on the trail: ADK volunteers will also be helping hikers prepare for their trips at the Heart Lake Program Center as Trailhead Stewards and protecting alpine vegetation on summits as a part of the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program.

A women rakes leaves

Seth Jones

“In partnership with the DEC, we have trained over 150 volunteers who will be working in the High Peaks Wilderness this summer,” said Seth Jones, ADK Education Director. “As visitor use remains high, we need all the help we can get to ensure that hikers know how to stay safe and minimize their impacts while they enjoy the backcountry.”

The trainings led by ADK educators were also attended by volunteers for outreach programs led by the Adirondack 46ers and the Town of Keene. “We are creating a unified hiker education strategy in the High Peaks region,” said Jones. “With the support of our local partners and volunteers, we can address high use issues through outreach.”