NEW PALTZ, NY (July 27, 2021)— The Open Space Institute, in partnership with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Town and Village of New Paltz, announced a plan to improve a 3.5-mile section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, a key link in the Empire State Trail in Ulster County. The trail segment runs from Cragswood Road in the Town of New Paltz, south through the Village to the Empire State Trail trailhead at Sojourner Truth Park.
The OSI-led and managed trail improvement project will remove the aging trail surface and install a new 10-foot-wide bicycling and walking path, install drainage improvements to prevent trail erosion, and make safety improvements including installing signage and marked crosswalks at eight locations where the trail crosses public roads.
The announcement of this new trail renovation builds on a $1 million project OSI completed in 2020 to improve the northern 9.5- mile stretch of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which is also part of the Empire State Trail route, in the Towns of Ulster and Rosendale.
"The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a favored recreational destination for thousands of Hudson Valley residents and visitors every year," Governor Cuomo said. "The trail is well-used by cyclists, walkers and runners for local trips and is a critical link in the 750-mile Empire State Trail connecting Albany and New York City, Canada and Buffalo. Refurbishing this vital connection will help trail users of all abilities to have a better experience for years to come."
"With more and more people looking to connect with nature, it is critically important to make outdoor destinations safe, welcoming, and available to the public,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “Having already restored 9.5 miles of the northern stretch of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, protected and restored the Rosendale Trestle, and created the River-to-Ridge Trail in New Paltz, OSI is excited to continue our work in this landscape to build connections between people and land."
The 3.5-mile trail segment was originally constructed several decades ago and needs rehabilitation. The work will start in July and be completed by October. Trail users may encounter short-term trail closures on some weekdays to accommodate construction; no trail closures will occur on Saturdays, Sundays, or Holidays.
This section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is owned by the Town and Village of New Paltz, and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust holds conservation easements over the trail corridor. The Hudson River Valley Greenway has committed $900,000 to complete the project.
The project will implement recommendations set forth in the "Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Community Opportunity Plan," issued by Ulster County and the Village and Town of New Paltz in 2020. The plan, which included a robust public engagement and comment process, highlighted the need to upgrade this highly popular trail segment.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "With this project to enhance the Empire State Trail in New Paltz, we are ensuring a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone who uses this portion of the trail to walk, run or bike. Ulster County offers extraordinary opportunities for outdoor recreation, and I'm grateful to see so many partners coming together to care for this important asset."