You Gotta Have Tips: Trail Stewards Program

Moreau State Park Snowshoe Hike

Snowshoeing on the trails in Moreau Lake State Park

When staff at Moreau Lake State Park were faced with a recurring problem of torn down trail markers, they naturally turned to The Friends of Moreau Lake State Park for help. The experimental park project evolved into a successful program, and even led to an exciting new discovery.

With its scenic overlooks, sandy beach, hardwood forests, campgrounds, and wildlife viewing opportunities, Moreau Lake State Park, located just north of Saratoga Springs, is a popular destination for enjoying the outdoors. Its 28 miles of trails are enjoyed on foot, horseback, snowshoes and cross-country skis.

With so much use, however, comes challenges. Trail markers are constantly torn down and thrown into the woods. Park staff decided to launch an experimental project and approached the Friends group for help.

“Once they took on the project it really took off,” says Park Manager Peter Iskenderian. “They know the park, have a vested interest in the park and want to make sure every guest has a safe and enjoyable visit to the park.”

The program not only helps maintain the park’s extensive trails network, it also engages members of the Friends group. Friends members are assigned a trail to steward. Stewards agree to hike their assigned trail once per month and check for things like litter and downed trees in addition to the trail markers. Each trail steward is given a button with an image of the colored trail tag for that trail to wear when they are out on their selected trail. Park staff and the Friends held a few meetings to show the stewards what they need to be looking for, how to report problems and how to properly tag the trails. There are currently 12 trail stewards.

The program recently led to a major new discovery at the park. While on one of her monthly hikes, Friends member Jackie Donnelly discovered the whorled Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum verticillatum var. verticillatum), an endangered plant and one of only seven populations found in all of New York State.

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