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Enjoy hiking for 24 miles on the rail trail

ROSENDALE, NY — August 30, 2013 — Just two months after reopening the historic Rosendale railroad trestle, the Open Space Institute and Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) announced today that the Williams Lake Project has finalized its donation of a 1.5 mile section of rail trail that fills in the only remaining gap in the extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail—now fulfilling OSI and WVLT’s goal of a continuous, 24-mile recreational rail trail running from the southern border of Gardiner to the city of Kingston.

The trail section will officially be opened at a ceremony to be held on the Williams Lake portion of the rail trail at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Rosendale Town Supervisor Jeanne Walsh will attend and speak at the event. Other elected officials, including U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson and New York State Senator John Bonacic, have been invited as well. 

“OSI is grateful to the Williams Lake Project for its generous donation, which completes the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and makes one of the Hudson Valley’s premier recreational assets now fully accessible to the public,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. 

With the donation finalized, the entire 24-mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is now officially open to the public. As part of the donation agreement, the Williams Lake Project will improve the bed of the rail trail so that it is usable by bikers, equestrians and pedestrians. 

In addition to filling in the missing link in the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the donated segment of rail trail will provide hikers, bikers and equestrians with a scenic and largely undeveloped route through the limestone karst region known as the Binnewater Hills, running past two scenic lakes (Williams Lake and Fourth Lake) and through an area of extensive caves and limestone formations.

“Connecting the Williams Lake Rail Trail to the greater rail trail network has been a priority for us from Day One. We are thrilled to provide public access to the beautiful historic resources on the property and to take an important step forward in creating a connection between the Resort and Main Street Rosendale,” said Tim Allred, project manager of the Williams Lake Project. 

The Rosendale trestle—which was reopened to the public on June 29 after a nearly four-year restoration project—and rail trail are open to the public from dawn till dusk every day, unless the temporary need arises to make improvements to the rail bed in other areas. The trail is open to walkers, hikers, bikers and horseback riders, but no motorized vehicles.  

“The opening of the trestle was truly an exciting day, and the past few months we have seen hundreds of happy people cross the 940-foot expanse,” said Chris Bernabo, president of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust Board. “Now uniting the entire extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, users can travel from the city of Kingston to Gardiner in just a few hours while enjoying some of the most beautiful views we have in southern Ulster County.”

In August 2009, OSI and WVLT partnered to acquire 11.5 miles of railroad bed that doubled the length of the rail trail, extending it through Rosendale and Ulster, and on to Kingston. The two organizations then partnered to raise $1.5 million to fund the restoration of the trestle, once part of an active railroad that ferried Ulster County produce down to markets in New York City.

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