John DeSanto, of Warwick, has been selected as the Appalachian Trail Ambassador for the Town of Warwick, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which is headquartered in Harper’s Ferry, WV.
DeSanto, a resident of the Village of Warwick, is a full-time professional photographer and the recently retired Director of Photography at the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, NY. He became interested in hiking in 2011 while photographing a magazine assignment about the 38-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that passes through Orange County, NY.
“Warwick has incredible diversity along our ten-mile section of the famous footpath,” DeSanto says. “From pristine waterfalls to challenging rock roller-coasters to easy footpaths to incredible views, it’s rare to find this kind of beauty this close to a major metropolitan area.”
Over the years, DeSanto has completed several multi-day hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia, the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York and along the Appalachian Trail here in southern New York and northern New Jersey.
He is a regular speaker at local high school and college photography classes and a guest lecturer at educational events hosted by camera clubs and organizations. He has presented to outdoor clubs about his AT hikes and has also authored several published pieces about the local hiking scene.
“I couldn’t think of a more qualified choice of Appalachian Trail Ambassador than John DeSanto,” said Village Mayor Michael Newhard. “John is well known professionally as a news journalist and photographer. But he is also an avid hiker. John has a great love for the AT and I believe he will bring to this position that passion as well as his professional skills.
As an Appalachian Trail Community, Warwick has recognized the importance and value of the trail,” Newhard said. “Having an ambassador will enhance and strengthen that relationship.”
In his new position, DeSanto will work closely with Town leaders, organizations and hiking clubs and AT community leader and Warwick resident Gene Giordano. DeSanto and Giordano will be speaking to groups and organizations in the next several months, getting the word out about the local hiking scene.
As a first step, the pair have created a new mobile-friendly website at www.hikewarwick.com which will help hikers sort trails by difficulty, find parking, offer safety tips and direct visitors to amenities located in the Villages of Greenwood Lake and Warwick.
“I look forward to working with John on improving the experience of hiking on Warwick’s ten-mile section of the Appalachian Trail,” said Gene Giordano. “We have some great plans in mind that will help make the hiking experience even better than it is today.”
To that end, a spring clean-up is being planned, a second informational kiosk is in the works and the pair hopes to reach out to local hikers to form an advisory council very soon. Check the website regularly for updated information.
DeSanto continues to write a popular column in the Times Herald-Record entitled “845LIFE,” which highlights interesting personalities in our region. He is also a photographer for Orange Magazine, shoots freelance assignments for several national advertising accounts and photographs weddings on weekends.
DeSanto, 65, hikes, kayaks and bikes in his spare time. When he’s not out handling photography assignments for clients, you can find DeSanto up on Bellvale Mountain hiking along Warwick’s beautiful section of the AT.