NEW PALTZ, NY (May 16, 2016)—The Castle Point Carriage Road, a centerpiece of the world-renowned and historic Minnewaska carriage road network, has officially re-opened to the public after months of closure for repairs and upgrades. The project is part of the Open Space Institute’s (OSI’s) ongoing effort to restore major connective sections of the larger carriage road system. The Castle Point Carriage Road project follows OSI’s restoration of the Hamilton Point Carriage Road completed last year and builds on OSI’s forty-year effort to protect and enhance Minnewaska State Park Preserve for its 370,000 annual visitors.
Following a $700,000 fundraising campaign led by OSI, the newly-restored Castle Point Carriage Road offers visitors a 4.6-mile scenic trail to hike, bike, cross-country ski or horseback ride from Lake Minnewaska to Lake Awosting.
First constructed in the Victorian era, Minnewaska’s carriage road network is threatened by age and disrepair, despite its resounding popularity. Over the past several years, OSI has fundraised and completed restoration of the 2.9-mile Hamilton Point Carriage Road and portions of the Lake Awosting Carriage Road, and is also in the planning and engineering phase of restoring the 2.9-mile High Point Carriage Road and a 4.5-mile portion of the Old Smiley Carriage Road.
“The successful restoration of Castle Point Carriage Road builds on OSI’s decades of success in preserving the Shawangunk Ridge and building Minnewaska State Park Preserve,” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of OSI. “OSI thanks its partners for their tireless effort to preserve this lynchpin of the Minnewaska Carriage Road network and improve access to the park’s spectacular landscapes for old and new visitors.”
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Hiking, biking and skiing the Carriage Roads are the heart of a Minnewaska adventure. I am grateful to the Open Space Institute for their continued partnership in improving the Carriage Road network for fun, safe and healthy recreation.”
Over four decades, OSI has steadily added puzzle piece after puzzle piece of conserved land to the park preserve, doubling it in size. The projects include the April 2015 conveyance of 602 acres to Minnewaska—including two parcels on the northwestern edge of the preserve protecting a remote area known as the Witch’s Hole Conservation Area.
Last October, Governor Andrew Cuomo and OSI also announced an exciting plan that will honor the history of the park while helping it springboard into the future. The strategy features a $7.3-million improvement plan that will include a 6,000-square-foot visitor center, a warming hut and other improvements.
The transformational projects are supported by a pledge from OSI to raise $3 million, providing design and construction services for the new additions.
Once in place, the projects will allow the popular park to better serve its legion of devoted fans, who visit Minnewaska for its crystalline sky lakes, world-class rock climbing and panoramic landscape views of the Shawangunk Ridge visible from the park’s beautiful carriage road network.
OSI thanks its partners in the effort to restore the carriage roads, including Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, the Butler Conservation Fund, Interlaken Foundation, Friends of the Shawangunks, and other generous supporters.