Managing Public Use

Our official trails ensure public access to the rare environment of the Pine Bush while protecting the ecosystem from over-use.

Features of our official trails

Trail markers

A trailside post with blue and yellow trail markers.

The major identifying factor of our official trails are color-coded markers.

Water bars

Logs, called water bars, cross a steep part of hiking trail, creating steps and stopping erosion.

We install water bars on steep slopes of official trails to reduce erosion. These water bars stop rain water from running quickly down the sandy trails and washing the sand away.

Mowed vegetation

A tractor driving down a trail, mowing the vegetation on the trail.

Our official trails are mowed at least once during the growing season. Fire breaks are also often mowed, however, so the presence of mowed vegetation is not enough to indicate whether or not a trail is official. Look for trail markers in order to be sure.

Our trail system

We maintain more than 20 miles of official, multiple-use trails that provide access to the pine barrens and opportunities for recreation. The trail system has undergone changes over the years, as we have tried to balance visitor experience with the impact recreational trails have on wildlife.


In many regions, trails have been re-routed to primarily follow the perimeter of pine barrens. When human activity is concentrated around the perimeter, animals that are wary of humans will be able to find refuge in the interior habitat, and may feel secure enough to stick around and even raise their young.


Anyone is allowed to "bushwack" off trail through any part of the preserve, so long as they do not hike along illegal trails. The goal behind this rule is to avoid concentrated human activity within the interior of the preserve. If human activity is more randomly distributed, wildlife will be less likely to change their nesting, denning, hunting and foraging behaviors.

What are illegal trails?

  • Anything that looks like a trail but does not have trail markers
  • Deer paths
  • Fenced-off trails


Hunting in the preserve

Hunting is allowed in the preserve. We work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to establish appropriate hunting regulations for the different regions of the preserve, keeping the interest of our constituents in mind while trying to maintain healthy wildlife populations. For more information on hunting, trapping and fishing, click here.

How can I help?

There are several ways you can help us protect the preserve and provide positive recreational experiences for other visitors.

  1. Don't use illegal trails for recreation.
  2. Report issues with our official trails. If you find a tree across a trail, missing signage, broken fences or other issues with our trails you can email us at
  3. Don't leave litter in the preserve.
  4. Share your knowledge and support for what we do on social media, in your community, and/or on our website.