ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new initiative was launched Friday to assist with the maintaining of trailheads across the state and to educate trail users before they enter the backcountry. Introduced in the 2021 State of the State address, the Adopt-a-Trailhead program is managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and gives residents the opportunity to support State-led efforts to care for state lands and educate others on responsible recreation.

In recent years, particularly in 2020 as New Yorkers eagerly used safe outdoor recreation experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the State has seen an increase in the number of visitors to parks, lands, and trails. Aligning with the NY Forward reopening plan, New Yorkers are encouraged to recreate locally in their region. While this provides an opportunity for more New Yorkers to explore the state’s natural areas, the State says many of these new visitors are inexperienced in back-country recreation, which can lead to situations that are potentially harmful to themselves and the environment.  

Adopt-a-Trailhead volunteers will help ongoing efforts to educate trail users about hiker preparedness, and, in turn, to eliminate litter left behind. DEC land managers will be identifying trailheads that will benefit most from the new program. Volunteers and DEC will continue to encourage hikers to Hike Smart NY and follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace while hiking

In addition, DEC continues to encourage Adirondacks visitors to seek out nearby alternative hikes that provide a similar experience but with fewer people.

Groups interested in volunteering for the program should submit an Adopt-a-Trailhead volunteer application to or via mail to:

NYSDEC, Division of Lands and Forests
Attn: Adopt-a-Trailhead Coordinator
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233

After applications are approved, groups and individuals will be assigned to a trailhead in their area. Participation in the Adopt-a-Trailhead program will include:

  • A series of online training courses focused on LNT principles, visitor interaction, and visitor education
  • Virtual meetings with DEC program staff to answer questions and share suggestions
  • Spending time at assigned trailheads during weekend mornings, including holiday weekends and some Friday afternoons, depending on the location
  • Monthly reports highlighting statistics such as number of volunteers that participated and number of hours spent at the trailhead