Additionally, the restored carriage roads play a critical role in
helping park staff and emergency responders act during crisis. The
carriage roads serve as emergency access routes that weave throughout
the park, and during wildfire events the carriage roads act as “fire
breaks” and are barriers that slow the progression of fire.
"OSI's commitment to the restoration of Minnewaska’s carriage road
builds on decades of work to protect the spectacular landscape and make
it more accessible and enjoyable for the public,” said Kim Elliman,
OSI's president and CEO. “Over the years, we have proudly restored more
than 15 miles of carriage roads, doubled the park's size through the
addition of more than 12,000 acres, and most recently helped build the
Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center. We are proud that our park improvement
work here is ensuring the land is both protected and welcoming to the
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "Minnewaska State Park
Preserve is an unforgettable destination, offering incredible views and
vast open spaces – and the park carriage roads are vital to park
experience. I am grateful to the Open Space Institute for its continued
work to improve the carriage roads and help visitors to explore all that
Minnewaska has to offer.”
“The restoration of the High Point Carriage Road will be a
significant contribution to all the important work OSI has undertaken to
restore Minnewaska State Park Preserve’s historic carriage road
network,” said PIPC Executive Director Joshua Laird. “The Palisades
Interstate Park Commission is grateful for OSI’s years of dedicated
effort to expand Minnewaska and to protect the Shawangunks as a special
place of nature and scenic beauty.”
“The historic carriage road network within Minnewaska is a tremendous
resource that offers miles of recreational opportunities for visitors
while protecting the sensitive resources within the park preserve, aides
in search and rescue operations, and forest fire management. One of my
biggest priorities since my tenure began at Minnewaska has been to
restore the entire carriage road system, and the progress that we have
made to date would not have been possible without our tremendous
partnership with OSI,” said Minnewaska State Park Preserve Park
Superintendent Erik Humphrey. “The current restoration of the High Point
Carriage Road will create a functioning carriage road connection from
the Sam’s Point Area to the Lake Awosting Area of Minnewaska State Park
Preserve with improved recreational opportunities. I look forward to
working with OSI in the years to come to complete the High Point Project
and the remaining carriage roads in need of restoration.”
After a competitive bidding process, OSI has contracted with
Mombaccus Excavating from Kerhonkson, NY to complete the High Point
Carriage Road restoration. As the project progresses, the public is
reminded that the site is an active construction area and is asked to
respect road closures and stay clear of construction equipment.
OSI’s High Point project is part of a larger, ongoing effort to
restore major sections of Minnewaska’s 35-mile Victorian era carriage
road system. Over the last several years, OSI has fundraised for and
completed restoration of 4.6-mile Castle Point Carriage Road, the
2.9-mile Hamilton Point Carriage Road, portions of the Lake Awosting
Carriage Road, 3.6 miles of the Old Smiley Carriage Road, and several
small carriage road sections on Mohonk Preserve.
Originally built to serve 19th century horse-drawn carriages,
Minnewaska’s crushed stone carriage roads are unique in that they
support many different user groups, allowing people of all ages,
abilities, and recreational interests to enjoy a truly remote outdoor
experience. OSI’s carriage road restoration projects are improving the
experience of the park for new and existing visitors – and in doing so,
better dispersing visitors to the area and protecting the region’s
hiking trails and precious natural resources.
The carriage road restoration projects have been completed in
partnership with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the Office of
Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Mohonk Preserve.
OSI has invested over $4M since 2014 towards the restoration of
Minnewaska’s carriage roads. The work has been completed thanks to the
generous support of Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, the Butler Conservation
Fund, the Interlaken Foundation, Friends of the Shawangunks, and other
generous donors. These private contributions have also leveraged over
$1M in grants from the state's Environmental Protection Fund.
Three additional sections of Minnewaska’ carriage roads, including
the western 3.1-milesection of the Smiley Carriage Road, and the
remaining 2.4 miles of the Lake Awosting Carriage Road, require
attention before the carriage road system can be considered fully
restored. OSI also indicated that it is pursuing additional
partnerships, private funds, and grants to fully achieve the final phase
of its ambitious plan.
About OSI’s work at Minnewaska State Park and Surrounding Trails
Just 90 minutes from Manhattan, Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a
recreational mecca visited by nearly half a million people every year.
Situated atop the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, the 23,000-acre
park preserve features dozens of panoramic views of the Hudson
Highlands, Catskill Mountains and the farmland of the Wallkill and
Rondout Valleys. With 35 miles of historic carriage roads and nearly 40
miles of footpaths, the park welcomes a wide range of hikers and bikers.
Minnewaska also features impressive sky lakes and waterfalls and is a
world-class rock-climbing location.
Over the past four decades, through a series of expansions
spearheaded by OSI, Minnewaska is now the third-largest state park in
New York. Committed to protecting the Shawangunk Ridge and improving
public access to protected lands, OSI has more than doubled the size of
Minnewaska State Park preserve; rebuilt over 15 miles of Minnewaska’s
historic carriage roads; and most recently, OSI raised more than $3
million toward the design and construction of the Minnewaska Visitor
Center, which opened in 2020.
OSI’s restoration of Minnewaska’s carriage road system is part of a
larger regional vision being pursued by OSI and many other partners to
connect rail trails, carriage roads and regional hiking trails along and
around the Shawangunk Ridge.
In 2009, OSI partnered with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust to acquire
9.5 miles of the Rosendale and Ulster sections of what is now the
Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. OSI raised $1.5 million to restore the
Trail's Rosendale Trestle and completed a $1.1 million renovation of the
northern stretch of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in 2020. In 2011,
OSI partnered with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust to acquire the
118-acre Joppenbergh Mountain in the Ulster County hamlet of Rosendale.
The mountain sits along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail near the north
end of the Rosendale Trestle.
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail adjoins OSI's popular 6-mile
River-to-Ridge loop trail, on the eastern side of the Shawangunk Ridge
in New Paltz. The River-to-Ridge Trail, which welcomed more that 177,000
people in 2021, meanders through farm fields and over gently rolling
hills, connecting New Paltz directly to the Shawangunk Ridge, with over
90 miles of recreational carriage roads and trails at the Mohonk
Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve, the Wallkill Valley Rail
Trail, and the Empire State Trail.