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Get involvedSuper Steward Trail Maintainer Program

A person stands in a green area holding a milk crate and a NYC Parks trail marker

What is a Super Steward Trail Maintainer?

The NYC Parks Super Steward Trail Maintainer program is an initiative of the Natural Areas Conservancy and NYC Parks.

Trail Maintainers are advanced, independent nature volunteers who receive training, tools, and resources that strengthen their efforts and enrich their experience caring for their adopted trail.

Trail Maintainers learn plant identification, invasive nonnative plant management, corridor pruning, and trail maintenance skills — along with a variety of other trails and natural area management practices.

Trail Maintainers contribute to the stewardship and maintenance of our nature trails, as well as the overall health of our diverse natural areas citywide.

Puncheons being installed in a NYC Park
A person hammers a trail marker into a tree wearing a blue back pack

How to become a Trail Maintainer

  1. Attend a Super Steward Trail Maintainer orientation

  2. Adopt a nature trail in a New York City park near you

  3. Walk through your adopted trail with a member of the Citywide Trails Team

  4. Commit to the stewardship and maintenance of your adopted NYC nature trail

  5. Participate in various Trail Maintainer volunteer opportunities to increase your trails skills and lead trail stewardship efforts in your community

A person hammers a trail marker into a tree wearing a blue back pack

Opinion: In Call for Parks Funding, Natural Areas Can’t Be Neglected

“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)
  • Corridor Keepers maintain trail corridors, ensure unofficial trails remain closed, keep trails free of debris, report on trail conditions, and manage non-native species along trail edges. Corridor Keepers must complete the following to advance to Tier 2 Structure Maintainer:

    • 1 mile of non-native species removed along trail edges and/or
    • .5 miles of corridor pruned and/or
    • .5 miles of desire line reclosed/closed
    • 6 bags of debris removed from trail/natural area and/or
    • Report trail conditions at least 4 times a year
  • Structure Maintainers maintain water bars, check steps, puncheons, turnpikes, drainage dips and other structures on trails. They also actively close unofficial trails as part of restoration efforts. Structure Maintainers must complete the following to advance to Tier 3 Structure Builder I:

    • Maintain 5 structures (less can be maintained dependent on amount of structures
      present on adopted trail)
    • Close at least 2 desire lines within a trail network (including desire lines closed during
    • Prep materials for at least 1 locally sourced structure
  • Structure Builder I volunteers will install check steps, water bars, and rustic check steps on the trail. Advance to Structure Builder I after reporting at least 24 total hours of trail improvement activities. Structure Builder I must complete the following to advance to Structure Builder II:

    • Report at least 36 total hours of trail improvement activities
    • Install 2 trail structures (including a structure installed during training)
    • Build 2 puncheons (including a structure built during training)
    • Build 2 rock structures (including a structure built during training)
  • Structure Builders II install puncheons and rock steps along the trail.

  • A group of trails crew leverage a boulder using long shovels
  • A group of trail maintainers stand in a row in front of boulders in a natural area

    See events for Trail Maintainers

    Find a list of volunteer opportunities and training sessions across the five boroughs.

    Learn More
A group of four trail maintainers wear green t-shirts smiling in a public park

Leadership opportunities

Many opportunities are available to Trail Maintainers who are interested in project and event coordination, the chance to train other volunteers, and other initiatives within their park. Some require technical skills associated with different Trail Maintainer tier levels, which can be gained through the program’s advanced trails skills training. Leadership opportunities are facilitated by the NAC and NYC Parks and guided by volunteers.

Download the Super Steward Trail Maintainer Handbook for more information.

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