United By Trails: Centennial Stories

October 19, 2020
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


United By Trails: Centennial Stories
Fall hike in the Catskills. Photo by Justin Ray.


To mark our Centennial, we celebrate through the passion, time, and energy you invest in connecting with nature and protecting the land you love.

On Oct. 19, the Trail Conference turned 100. Yet there will be no cake, no gala—not this year, circumstances considering.

We invite you to join the celebration. We’d love to know how trails have played an important role in your life. Share your trail tales by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook @nynjtc with the hashtag #UnitedByTrails, or by emailing us at [email protected]. We’ll be ringing in our second century by sharing your stories through next October. Stories selected for publication will also receive a special Centennial gift.

Below are a few of our favorite stories you've shared with us:

"Hiking: A Way Of Life" by Faith

"I’ve never climbed an alp. I had a chance to do so in 1950 when I was a student at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, but I blew it. I have regretted that negligence ever since, but I’m happy to say that I have found many other places to hike.

I’ve always liked to walk, and when in college I found a suitor who also liked to walk, we courted while walking the streets of Swarthmore, Pa. We married; and then came the babies. We pushed them in their strollers until they were old enough to walk on their own two feet, but that was mostly in municipal parks.

In 1964 a friend loaned us his copy of the 1924 edition of The New York Walk Book. Our curiosity was aroused, and we decided to sample the blazed trails discussed therein. We didn’t begin easy, however. On a chilly, blustery October day we started out to climb up Breakneck Ridge. It was an endeavor for which I was totally unprepared, physically, and psychologically.

Before long I was ready to give up. I told my husband and children to go on up, and I would sit down on a rock and wait for them. Bad idea! There was no sheltered rock; it was all exposed to the elements; and the longer I sat, the colder I got. Fearing hypothermia, I decided the only thing to do was turn around and go back down to the car. But the descent was scarier than the ascent. Slowly, with trembling legs, I made my way back to the road. My hiking career was about to come to an end before it even began.

Fortunately, I didn’t give up hiking, and it became our family activity when the children were young and continued on through the years until 2016 when my husband and I finally hung up our boots. It was always day-hiking, and we set ourselves a goal of 300 trail miles per year — a goal which we achieved or exceeded in many years. We sampled all of the East coast mountain chains and hiked also in the Western US and in England, Scotland and Wales. It was at least fifteen years, however, before I went back to Breakneck Ridge.

I’m still walking although I’ve passed my 90th birthday. I can do a mile on the grounds of the assisted living facility in which I reside, and I try to do that every day, weather permitting. I do believe that walking keeps me alive, and it’s too much a part of my life to give it up now."

Thanks to the Trail Conference community, millions of people throughout the region have been able to experience the outdoors for the last 100 years. Generations more will know the joys of nature through our—your—continued efforts. We are moved by nature; we are united by trails. Thank you for being part of such an important legacy. It’s time to celebrate!