"Look Where We Live!" is the tagline of an exciting new resource for Sullivan County residents and visitors. Trailkeeper (www.trailkeeper.org) is an ambitious project that endeavors to be "your one-source outlet for hiking trails and public lands in Sullivan County," and it is well on its way to achieving this goal.
The creation of the Trailkeeper website has certainly been a group effort, relying on grant funding from the Upper Delaware Council and Sullivan Renaissance, and a strong partnership of organizations including the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the Sullivan County Division of Planning and Environmental Management the Sullivan County Visitors Association, Morgan Outdoors, the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, and the National Park Service.
The Trailkeeper website lists and describes the trails of Sullivan County, as well as our beautiful county, state, and national parks. Each trail and park's location is pinpointed on a Google map. When you click on the link for a specific trail or park, a close-up map of the location appears, along with detailed directions to parking areas and trailheads. For trails, the length and difficulty are noted, and symbols show if other activities, like snowshoeing, biking, horseback riding, or camping, are allowed. For parks, fees, facilities, and activities - like boating and swimming - are detailed. It is really easy to choose a hike or activity that suits your interests or ability.
The website also gives tips to prepare for your hike, including gear recommendations and things you should carry and do to stay safe. And what do you do when you finish your hike and you need more than GORP in your belly? Trailkeeper has you covered - just click on "Things Nearby" at the end of each hike's description for a list of local restaurants. "Things Nearby" also lists lodging, shopping, and other attractions to further enhance your experience.
Trailkeeper is an ever-evolving and expanding work in progress. The site's developers used GIS (Geographic Information Systems) data provided by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Park Service and the NY-NJ Trail Conference to create the framework of the site. All of the other information was compiled or contributed by hikers, volunteers, and member organiztions. The site's maintainers are counting on its users to comment on trail conditions, submit photos, identify discrepancies, and even to suggest new trails. Sullivan County Audubon Society is exploring ways to contribute information to the site on where and how to observe birds and other wildlife.
So, take some time to explore the Trailkeeper website, and then, more importantly, take some time to explore where we are so fortunate to live.
– Kathy Scullion