Blazing a Trail on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail

Blazing a Trail on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail

By Chana Weinman

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference reports that progress is being made in replacing trail markers on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail in Harriman State Park. 

One volunteer, John Swanson spent two days last week replacing and re-nailing over 400 blazes across more than 2 miles of trail going in both directions. 

"I'm maintaining and repairing, not marking a new trail," Swanson clarifies.

According to the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, it takes about 90-100 blazes to mark one mile of trail in one direction. 

"In collaboration with our volunteers, our focus goes beyond getting you out on trails and having fun," the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference shares regarding the accomplishment. "It also prioritizes safe navigation and a safe return home."

"Here's my practical Harriman Park blazing guideline," Swanson shares his methodology. "When standing at one blaze, ideally, you should only see the next blaze in the distance; however, in some cases, you will see two. If I see more than two, in my opinion, it's over-blazed. If the blazes are closer than thirty feet, I try to delete one. If I do not see the next blaze but the treadway is well defined than no issues. I hike along and expect to see the next blaze within fifty feet of walking. There are sections with fewer blazes. The idea here is to prevent hikers from getting lost. Sometimes, there can be three blazes within fifty feet to achieve this goal as the route is not clear. Also, I evaluate how long (feet of trail) a blaze is visible. I find it worthless to come around a blind corner and see a blaze. One last point: visibility varies with the season, so I intentionally limit deleting blazes in the winter."

Photo Credit:  New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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