Tuxedo Park School students learned how to build a hiking trail in Sterling Forest, today, with the expert help from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference as part of the school's Earth Week activities.
"Not only are these students working hard and working as a team, but they're doing so outside in nature," said Head of Tuxedo Park School Todd Stansbery. "The school has many planned Earth Day activities, and this one will result in a new trail that all members of the community may use to enjoy nature."
Members of the freshman class, along with Stansbery, carrying rakes, hoes, and pick-axes, hiked with Erik Mickelson, field manager at New York-New Jersey Trail Conference to an untouched part of the Munsee Eagle Trail.
The trail, once complete, will connect the Red Back Trail and Hutchinson Trail into a loop for hikers and bikers.
At their construction site, following the 1.3-mile hike, Mickelson explained how the students would be 'bench cutting' the trail into the side of the hill.
Mickelson showed the students how to rake away the leaves, then how to remove the O-layer. The O-layer, he described, is the organic matter, sometimes referred to as duff. The objective, he explained, was to find the "peanut butter" colored dirt. Once students removed the duff, they would start cutting the path.
The students went to work and cut close to 30 feet of new trail in a few hours. Mickelson expects to have a mile completed by the end of the summer.
"These students are learning by doing," said Mickelson. "They're helping to create a sustainable trail, and it's volunteers, like them, that will get the trail completed. "
Mickelson also showed the students how he planned the path of the trail factoring the terrain, water run-off, and slope. He taught the students how to determine the slope of the trail and explained his goal is to keep the slop under 12% where ever possible, a comfortable incline for most bikers and hikers.
Mickelson said that volunteers are needed to help complete the trial, and no experience is necessary. Contact Erik Mickelson at email@example.com for info on how to get involved.