Force of Nature Shows Its Strength on Bear Mountain

March 08, 2018
Heather Darley
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Force of Nature Shows Its Strength on Bear Mountain
Force of Nature trail building workshop on Bear Mountain. Photo by Heather Darley.


The Trail Conference hosts female-focused trail building workshop on the Appalachian Trail in Bear Mountain State Park.

No matter who you are, trail building can sound like an intimating task. While double jacks and grip hoists aren’t part of everyone’s tool vocabulary, giving back to the trails you love is something we can all do together.

On Sept. 30, the Trail Conference hosted a female-focused introduction to trail building in celebration of REI’s Force of Nature campaign. Field managers Tori Welch and Ellie Pelletier led a trail-building workshop on the reroute of the original section of the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain State Park. We were joined by four Conservation Corps members and 18 volunteers.

The workshop began with a lesson on tool safety. Tori and Ellie explained why the trail is being built with crib walls and stone steps, and how these features help control soil erosion created by trail traffic and water runoff.

The participants then picked up their rock bars and set eight, 1-ton rock steps— work that might typically take a crew two or three days to complete. “I walked away from the trail that day feeling empowered and inspired,” says volunteer and new Trail Conference Finance and Operations Associate Nicole Dion. “Being a part of such a supportive group of women helped me to test my own mental and physical strength while learning new skills.”

At the Trail Conference, we’re surrounded by strong and inspiring women who are at the forefront of our field. Our 100-year legacy was blazed by both men and women, and we continue to celebrate and support this passion for the outdoors. Every day, we’re connecting with new people from all walks of life who believe in creating a welcoming environment to get outside and give back—because YOU are a force of nature, and together we can move mountains.

We invite all women to get outside and give back to one of our most cherished connections to nature: trails. Stay tuned for more Force of Nature events in 2018!