What is a Trail Crew?
Pretty obvious. It is a group of people working together to maintain and create trails. Sounds simple, but that is honestly where the simplicity ends. What does it take to make up a Trail Crew? People, right? That is Hard Part #1. Finding a group of people that can work together is not easy. Everyone has a life, and trying to coordinate all those lives into a team is a juggling act.
Finding people that are dedicated enough to stick it out and see a project through to completion is Hard Part #2. It does little good to have people that show up once or twice a year. You need a core group of 5-10 individuals that will at least dedicate themselves to finishing what is started.
Why does it take a group of people? Trail building is fun, but doing it right takes a bit of thought and even more work. Getting something done in a reasonable amount of time is very difficult working alone, and burnout is common. Having a few dedicated friends to help gets the job done much faster and with less effort than one lone person can manage.

Why does Jones Park Need a Trail Crew?
Jones Park used to be a secret, unknown place where a few people enjoyed themselves in relative obscurity. The charter laid out by the people who bequeathed the land for the park was that it remain an "unimproved natural space" for people to enjoy. That is a wonderful idea, in theory, but unfortunately not quite practicable in the demanding modern world.
"No one used to come here," the park lovers would say. That is no longer the case. There is an increasing amount of interest in communities everywhere regarding recreational opportunities, and the Triple Cities is no different. This puts increasing demands on municipalities and facilities. The reality is that Town Governments simply do not have the resources (or in many cases, the specific knowledge of what to do) to devote to parks like Jones. It is left largely to individuals or volunteer groups to do what is needed for the benefit of the land and other users.
Beyond having people willing to work to increase these recreational opportunities, problems arise when there is no coordination in these efforts. If one single person or group carry out the tasks of maintenance and building, then - assuming they do good work - things go smoothly. However, if various people or groups start working independently, things can and do get a bit out of hand.
Jones Park is not a large tract of land in relative terms. As such, it really requires a coordinated and planned effort in order to keep from making a jumbled mess of any group of trails. Having disparate individuals or groups working at cross purposes will not create a cohesive and functional trail system that best reflects the beauty and uniqueness of Jones Park, yet compliments and maintains its natural terrain.

It is Time!
Some of the problems highlighted here are already coming to pass. There are different people performing  trail work right now; doing different things, unfortunately to widely differing effect. Some of the efforts are quite nice, complimenting the natural terrain, and allowing people to enjoy parts of the park that have not previously been accessible by trail. Other efforts are far less than helpful in terms of user-friendliness, proper choice and use of terrain, and proper construction techniques.
To avoid turning this pretty place into a jumble of nonsensical trails running hither and yon, it is time to create a cohesive unit with a planned strategy for success. That group will be the...
Jones Park Trail Tribe

In order to make the best use of the space available, and yet preserve the natural beauty of the park, it is time to create one group that will work together to create this trail system. A group of dedicated individuals whose mission is to keep the trails as natural and yet sustainable as possible while allowing the increasing visitor load to enjoy the park as it should be; an accessible but natural place.
The time has come to guide Jones Park toward a selectively and successfully managed future.
If you would like to be a part of that endeavor, please use the e-mail link below to express your interest.
With your help, we can create a natural, sustainable trail system for everyone to enjoy.

I want to know more about the Jones Park Trail Tribe
The photo above was taken at Shindagin Hollow State Forest north of Candor. The event was the working portion of a special weekend set up by local mountain biking groups. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and its Adopt A Natural Resource Program have realized and embraced the efficacy of partnering with local enthusiast groups to maintain and expand recreational opportunities in state forest lands.
Ithaca area members of Cycle-CNY have partnered with the DEC to create the Shindagin Hollow AANR chapter.
** This volunteer group is now the official steward of the Shindagin Hollow trail network **
For this event, Shindagin AANR members enlisted the help of the International Mountain Bicycling Association to put on a trail building seminar.
IMBA sent out one of their roving Trail Care Crews to put on a trail building seminar involving class room training, and then a solid 1.5 days of hands-on trail building using the skills and techniques learned in the lecture. Using timeless and proven trail building methods, IMBA, Cycle-CNY, and the Shindagin AANR groups are helping New York State to turn Shindagin Hollow into a premier destination for trail recreation in Upstate NY.
That is a great question to ask, and the answer is at once simple... and complex. Making a good trail has three basic parts. 1) it should be interesting, 2) it should be accessible, and 3) it must be sustainable.
Making trails Interesting is an art. Anyone can go in the woods, lay out some ribbons, and call it a trail. Most of those are usually pretty boring. They tend to be straight in line and they don't usually highlight the interesting points of the available terrain too well.
A good trail builder will usually have a general location for a trail in mind for a long time; scouting it at intervals, thinking about how to best route it so that it shows off some interesting features, follows an interesting path between features, or utilizes interesting topography.
Unless the topography is highly unique, straight trails are usually quite boring. "As the Crow Flies" is a silly way to build a trail when you think about it. No one goes into the woods to get anywhere in a hurry, do they? You want to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the space, not simply burn shoe leather.
Making trails Accessible is also mandatory. Making trails unnecessarily difficult or treacherous is not good for a number of reasons. It does a park like Jones - with its limited trail mileage - little good to have a trail that is
What Does It Take to Make a Good Trail?
not useful to a fairly significant number of people. Making a trail that stands to get people hurt is not wise either.
There is nothing wrong with advanced trails, but they should only come into play when a basic trail system is ironed out, and then only built in areas that are isolated and apart from the needs of general users.
Jones Park does have a number of easy to moderate trails right now, but there is still plenty of room for more of the same, laid out in a way that allows further opportunities for diverse enjoyment. Advanced trails for hard core users should come later, and as an adjunct to a basic system, not a mainstay.
You can have the first two characteristics nailed down tight, but they are useless if the trail is not Sustainable. Building trails that last with little maintenance is the goal. The principles involved are fairly simple, but it takes a lot of careful planning to build a trail that requires little work to maintain. This is often where many trails - run through interesting areas and with great potential - fall apart... as it were. It takes a lot of work to put a trail crew together and to build trails in the first place. Then, building trails that require constant upkeep puts a huge strain on human resources. They do no good for the woods either.
By carefully considering where trails will be built, for what intent or style of use,
and using proven and timeless construction techniques, we will build an interesting, diverse,
and sustainable trail system for everyone to enjoy for years to come.
If you would like to help, we welcome your participation.

Building trails can be a lot of back breaking work at times, but if you enjoy the woods, there is nothing like enjoying it on trails that you helped create yourself!