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Strategic Trails Plan

What's the Strategic Trails Plan?

While New York City’s parks contain more than 300 miles of nature trails, less than half of those miles have been formalized. As New Yorkers increasingly turn to city parks to experience and enjoy the outdoors, the Natural Areas Conservancy is seeking to improve accessibility to local trails and overall trail conditions.

In June 2021, the NAC released the New York City Strategic Trails Plan, which details how to upgrade our city’s system of nature trails that spans all five boroughs. The plan would unify the existing network of trails within the 10,000 acres of natural areas in NYC parks through trail markers, mapped and formalized paths, and routes designed to showcase unique natural assets. The plan would also increase access to parks and recreation, and give New Yorkers a high-quality experience in nature that many currently seek outside of the city.

Download the Plan(this link opens in new window)
Park visitors walk on trail in Marine Park, one has a baby stroller

Plan detailsThe plan will...

The New York City Strategic Trails Plan quantifies the investment required to build and maintain a trails system by leveraging public, nonprofit, and corporate investments, as well as a corps of volunteers. The plan also provides the first trail management and design guidelines for NYC to preserve existing trails and create new ones.

  1. Create a trail system that provides a range of experiences showcasing the natural diversity of NYC’s parkland

  2. Support ambassador or stewardship groups to adopt every nature trail in the city

  3. Use signage, maps, and wayfinding in parks and online to make parks accessible to a range of visitors

  4. Adopt consistent approaches to design, construction, and maintenance of nature trails

  5. Offer regular programming in every park with a nature trail to engage members of the community

  6. Develop diverse and stable funding streams to fully fund and support the trail management program

Trail maintainers do work in a forest, one man swings a hammer

Tales from the trails

“Unfortunately, natural areas are woefully underfunded—one of the main reasons a small army of volunteers like the Natural Areas Conservancy’s trail maintainers must regularly manage these areas in partnership with NYC Parks staff.”

Read Article(this link opens in new window)

Recent trails work

  • A NYC Parks blue trail marker nailed into a tree trunk, it reads "Seton Falls Park"

    Find NYC hiking trails

    For more information on the city’s vast trail system, including maps and visitor guidance, and to sign up for upcoming volunteer events, visit NYC Parks' website.

    Learn More(this link opens in new window)
  • A group of trails crew leverage a boulder using long shovels

    Become a Trail Maintainer

    The Super Steward Trail Maintainer program is an initiative of the NAC and NYC Parks that supports advanced volunteers to adopt and steward nature trails.

    Get Involved

Support our trails work by giving today

Your contribution supports our efforts to manage and formalize NYC’s important trails network.

Give Now
Urban Park rangers prune a trail from invasive plants