New York's Breakneck Ridge: A Challenge for Hikers Becomes a Challenge to Sustain

This presentation will showcase elements of a comprehensive planning effort underway, and will focus on specific management actions including data collection, trail stewardship, maintenance, and a Leave No Trace hot spot event.

by Chris Morris, Statewide Trails Planner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Hank Osborn, Director of Programs, New York - New Jersey Trail Conference, Sara Hart, Park Planner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

The Breakneck Ridge Trail in New York’s Hudson Valley has become the number one hiking destination in the NYC metropolitan area. In good weather, the trail frequently brings more than 3,000 hikers a weekend to hike its steep, rocky ascent and enjoy its breathtaking views. The growing volume of trail use here presents many management challenges for park and agency staff. This presentation will showcase elements of a comprehensive planning effort underway, and will focus on specific management actions including data collection, trail stewardship and, maintenance, and a Leave No Trace hot spot event.

Learning Objectives:
  • Discuss the steps taken to manage visitor use in Hudson Highlands State Park.
  • Explain the types of data collected on visitation, trail conditions, and use patterns.
  • Compare the types of partnerships that may help them achieve success

About the Authors

Chris Morris is an avid hiker, trail runner, and mountain biker. Some of Chris’ most fond memories have been made on a path in the woods. As Trails Planner for New York State Parks, Chris works with staff and partner organizations across the state to enhance trail-based recreation and protect our park’s natural resources. Chris has a background in GIS, volunteer trail maintenance, and is the current president of Saratoga Mountain Bike Association. He often describes his work at Parks as his dream job.

Hank Osborn is an avid outdoor educator and advocate. He joined the Trail Conference staff in 2013 as East Hudson Program Coordinator. In 2020, Hank became the Trail Conference's Director of Programs. Hank has a long history and a deep passion for the outdoors. He began maintaining trails as a boy in Garrison, N.Y. and later, as an adult, chaired the Garrison School Forest Committee; was appointed to the Philipstown Greenway Committee, and became a Hudson Highlands Land Trust hike leader. Hank has taught geology, environmental science and ecology at the high school level and served as associate professor of physical education and rowing coach at Columbia University and Dartmouth College. Hank graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Sociology and Geology and did graduate work at Dartmouth College with a focus in environmental studies. He has completed two National Outdoor Leadership School courses and currently serves on the Beacon Greenway Committee. Hank is President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks. He lives in the Hudson Highlands where he and his wife enjoy hiking the trails with their children.

Contact: [email protected]

Sara Hart is a park planner for New York State Parks and a resident of the beautiful Hudson Valley. Sara Hart has a long professional history planning for public land use and recreation in the region. Originally from Hungary, Sara started out as a landscape architect in the private sector of Long Island, then worked at the Columbia Land Conservancy, and now leads a broad range of park planning efforts throughout New York State’s several regions. As a hiker, backpacker, and conservationist, Sara is also a long-time volunteer with the Appalachian Mountain Club.

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