As adventurers, builders, and stone workers,the volunteers of the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew add incredible value every year to public parks in the Hudson Valley of New York. Making it easier to access the iconic scenes our region has to offer, The Jolly Rovers use ancient stone crafting techniques to construct beautiful paths, stairs, and trails. Yet this work is not just about a pretty view: these projects help make trails more sustainable, preventing erosion and other environmental problems. This year, the Jolly Rovers, in partnership with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, embarked on their most ambitious project to date, the restoration of the Lenape Steps.
This staircase was originally built in 1858 and named for the Native American people that once lived in the region. It provided access to one of the Hudson Valley's most visited and iconic natural destinations. The steps and view attracted visitors for the next century. However, the staircase fell into disrepair after a century of New York winters. Increasingly unsafe and unattractive to visitors, the path became an abandoned route in what is now the Sam’s Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve of NY.
Reconstruction of this historic ascent began in July 2019 and will continue through the spring of 2021. Volunteers use old-world skills, crafting and installing each stone by hand inside the chasm to ensure it will last for centuries to come. Stones are harvested within the park, brought to the top of the cliff, and lowered into the narrow chasm using a custom built timber ramp rigging system.
The Lenape Steps will blend the primitive and the polished, providing an incredible prelude to the breathtaking view on top of Sam's Point. However, this is our most ambitious project yet, and the COVID-19 crisis has proved to be a remarkable challenge, as only 11 Rovers may work on the site at a time. ecause of the challenges of the pandemic and the difficult site, the Rovers have relied on machine support in transporting stones for the first time in our history. This adaptation has increased our costs, but kept us moving forward close to our original schedule.
You can help us rebuild the Lenape Steps. You don’t need to be a mason or an architect. You don’t even need to lift a hammer. Your contribution will help us see this project through to completion - contributing will help fund the tools, supplies, and project planning. Not only will you help restore this piece of Hudson Valley history, but you’ll also be able to experience the results with your own feet as visitors did 160 years ago. Please join us in supporting this endeavor as we create a legacy in stone.