New Paltz, NY (May 19, 2023)- The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the completion of improvements to a 5.5-mile section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and replacement of the Plattekill Creek Bridge in Ulster County. The project, costing nearly $900,000, enhances trail access and user experience, as well as providing important safety upgrades.
Improvements along this popular stretch of trail included reconstruction of the Plattekill Creek Bridge; grading and resurfacing of the trail path; upgraded ADA accessible crosswalks at trail entry points; clearing vegetation for safety and visibility; improved wayfinding and traffic calming signage; and drainage and structural improvements. This newly restored trail section, located between Sojourner Truth Park in New Paltz and Main Street in Gardiner, features a stunning view of the Shawangunk Mountains from the Plattekill Creek Bridge.
The project was completed by OSI in partnership with Ulster County, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, Town and Village of New Paltz, and Town of Gardiner. It marks the first of three Ulster County-funded trail improvement initiatives that OSI will lead over the next two years.
This Wallkill Valley Rail Trail improvement project was completed as part of OSI’s Growing Greenways: West of Hudson Greenway Trails Vision Plan (“Growing Greenways Plan”), a vision to connect, extend, and improve seven major existing trail networks in the Hudson Valley.
“OSI is grateful to our partners for helping us protect land and make it more accessible to the public,” said Peter Karis, OSI’s vice president of parks and stewardship. “The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is an integral part of OSI’s Growing Greenways Initiative. Its success proves that welcoming, safe, and accessible open spaces are essential to a thriving community.”
“Everyone in the Hudson Valley knows the importance of open space and natural beauty. That’s why I was so proud as County Executive to deliver nearly $900K in funding for this crucial project,” said Congressman Pat Ryan. “I want to thank the Open Space Institute for their tremendous work not just on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, but all across New York State. You provide an incredible service to this community, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”
“I am thrilled to celebrate the opening of this new rail trail connection, funded by the County’s federal ARPA funds, and to continue our strong partnership with OSI in expanding our trail network," said Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger. "As an avid rail trail user, I have experienced the joy and benefits these trails bring, and have been enjoying commuting to work on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail when I can. Rail trails are great for our economy, health, and quality of life, and are part of the solution to reducing our impact on climate change. Ulster County remains dedicated to enhancing connectivity, providing equitable access, and ensuring continuous improvements to our trail system."
Neil Bettez, Supervisor in the Town of New Paltz said, “We are extremely grateful to the County and OSI for providing these funds and carrying out this project because these trails allow people of all ages and incomes a safe place to walk or ride their bikes which benefits their physical and mental health.”
Marybeth Majestic, supervisor in the Town of Gardiner said, "As a person that walks daily, personally I think the improvements to the rail trail are wonderful. I have encountered numerous residents and visitors that are as thrilled as I am with the new trail. After living through the pandemic, we value our open space and recreational resources now more than ever. I would like to thank Ulster County for using their ARPA funds to make this happen, and OSI for engineering and overseeing the project, and our own Highway Superintendent and crew for their assistance. The Town of Gardiner is extremely grateful for this improved recreational facility."
In 2021, Ulster County awarded OSI $2.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward the three rail trail improvement projects, with OSI utilizing private support to provide an additional $95,000 worth of project management services. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail project was also made possible through generous in-kind support services by partner municipalities, the Village and Town of New Paltz and the Town of Gardiner.
As with previous improvements on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the project was managed by OSI in partnership with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust.
OSI’s Growing Greenways Growing Greenways Plan outlines a vision to connect, extend, and improve existing Hudson Valley trail networks including the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, O&W Rail Trail, Catskill Mountain Rail Corridor, Sullivan O&W Rail Trail, Schunnemunk Rail Trail, and Shawangunk Ridge Carriage Roads. Once completed, the Growing Greenways Plan will create an interconnected, multiuse trail network spanning more than 250 miles and connecting more than 20 communities throughout Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange counties. The $8 million Growing Greenways initiative will involve land acquisition, new trail development, improvements and realignments to existing trails, and trailhead enhancements that will better welcome and orient visitors. Learn more about the plan here.
About the Trail
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a 22+ mile trail and linear park that runs along the former Wallkill Valley railroad corridor in Ulster County, through the towns of Gardiner, New Paltz, Rosendale, and Ulster. The trail's 10-foot-wide pathways gently meander through wooded property. Hikers, joggers, cyclists, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers use the trail, which sees more than 100,000 visitors annually. The multi-use trail is open year-round from dawn to dusk.
About the Open Space Institute
Over the past 40 years, OSI has protected more than 36,000 acres on and along the Shawangunk Ridge in Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties—a total more than twice the size of Manhattan. The work, achieved with the support of local partners and generous donors, has expanded parkland, created trails, preserved local viewsheds, and protected vulnerable farmland and wildlife habitats.
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. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail adjoins OSI's 6-mile River-to-Ridge loop trail in New Paltz, NY which traverses more than 360 acres of land protected by OSI. The River-to-Ridge Trail brings visitors 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.