Trail Running Community Gives Back Through Volunteering, Fun Events

May 05, 2021
Don Weise, Director of Donor Advising
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Trail Running Community Gives Back Through Volunteering, Fun Events


Trail running has exploded in popularity, providing a new way for people to fall in love with trails.

Those of us who are not runners may be pleasantly surprised to learn just how much hikers and trail runners have in common. Both groups share a deep love of nature, passion for adventure, and that physical connection to the Earth that only comes from exploring on foot. And it’s no accident that most runners you encounter will either slow to a walk or announce their presence to avoid startling you. In our region at least, trail runners seem to have a culture of caring, which also translates into giving back to trails.

To engage this user group and involve them in our mission, we offer Trail Conference Trail Runs, a group that meets for monthly runs, often highlighting trails or areas that the Trail Conference has recently improved. The Trail Conference is also supported by several member clubs and affiliates such as Sassquad Trail Running, Red Newt Racing, Salt Shakers, and the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) Run. Together, we are building a community through runs, benefit races, volunteer trips, and by actively promoting the Trail Conference.

Kim Levinsky, founder and race director of Sassquad Trail Running, has set an exceptionally high philanthropic bar within the trail running community. All of her events and races benefit the Trail Conference or other charities. Many Sassquad members are also active Trail Conference volunteers. Sassquad’s popular Squatchy Onesie Fest at Ramapo Valley County Reservation this February (pictured above) was one of several events that will benefit the Trail Conference this year. It featured runners and hikers ranging in age from 6 to 89. Other Trail Conference benefit events include a monthly RunVenture hike series. Thanks also to Sassquad for sponsoring our new Delaware Water Gap & Kittatinny Trails map set!

Despite being a serious ultra-marathoner who holds three local fastest known time records, Levinsky offers events that are highly inclusive, with short distance options and a clear emphasis on fun. This approach has resulted in a diverse and loyal audience that includes everyone from brand-new runners and hikers to seasoned ultramarathoners. It is a point of pride for Levinsky that her races have a higher percentage of female participants in a relatively male-dominated sport.

Check out our partnered race in Harriman State Park with Sassquad Trail Running on July 31. (Hurry though! This race is filling up fast!)

Trail Conference Board members Charlie Gadol and Ken Posner are also making a difference by recruiting trail runner-volunteers and by raising funds through trail races in Sterling Forest, the Shawangunks, the Catskills, and Westchester through Run Wild, Inc. Charlie is also hiking the Long Path this summer in support of the Trail Conference's mission. Ian Golden and Red Newt Racing also support the Trail Conference through races and the Trails Collective. Thanks to all the trail running organizations who give back to trails!

For more information about trail running events led by the Trail Conference and our partners, visit our Facebook group, Trail Conference Trail Runs. We typically offer two pace groups to accommodate ability levels and comply with safety protocols.