Mapping Out the Next 100 Years

September 01, 2021
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Mapping Out the Next 100 Years


The work the Trail Conference does now impacts how future generations will experience the outdoors.

Imagine a group of passionate people who believe in the power of connecting with nature standing in front of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They see potential in the natural areas outside of New York City—untamed woodlands and mountains that can offer clean air, exercise, and respite for the growing population in the rapidly developing metropolis. Many of these natural areas themselves are being eyed for development. Time is of the essence to protect the land.

Through private donations and public participation, they succeed in preserving many important parcels. With ownership of these lands transferred to the states of New York and New Jersey, they begin partnering with these agencies to scout, design, and construct trail systems that will provide safe, enjoyable access for the public. They enlist more people to build, maintain, and protect these new trails and the precious ecosystems they allow visitors to experience. All this work they do as a volunteer-powered nonprofit: the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

That scene is as much a retelling of the Trail Conference’s origins in the early 1900s as it is a look at the work that the organization is accomplishing today. As we close our Centennial year this October, the symbolic end of an era presents Trail Conference leadership with the opportunity to ask many of the same questions our founders pondered: How do we harness the growing interest in nature? How do we empower more people to explore the outdoors safely? How do we instill a sense of pride and responsibility in protecting its integrity?

Of course, there are new questions we must face as well: How do we address barriers between people of color and equitable access to the outdoors? How can our work better address climate change and other threats to the health of the environment? As we turn 101, It feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real difference in how the public engages with nature.

In this Trail Walker, you’ll read about some of the steps we are taking to answer these questions—from a largescale trails plan that emphasizes community connectivity, to leading the response to the emerging invasive spotted lanternfly. We’ve also embarked on a strategic planning process to define our priorities and efforts in the coming years.

As an outdoor lover and Trail Conference supporter, we invite you to be a part of this journey. Sign up for our digital newsletter to receive invitations to provide feedback, stay up-to-date on our progress, and more.