Putnam County, NY (October 21, 2021)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) and New York State Parks announced the transfer of land from OSI to New York State as an addition to the Hudson Highlands State Park. The property, located along Route 9D in Putnam County will provide alternate access to Breakneck Ridge, one of the Hudson Valley’s most premier hiking trails.
The proposed creation of a new trailhead at the property will provide easy access to the park’s Brook Trail; provide an alternate access into Breakneck Ridge from the south; and improve general safety so that park visitors will no longer have to walk or park along Route 9D or cross the high-speed highway to access the Brook Trail trailhead.
The property was the site of a former “Chalet on the Hudson” catering company and was acquired by New York State using funds from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). State Parks will begin a planning phase to create information kiosks and a trailhead to the nearby Brook Trail on the property, as well as provide increased safety with added parking away from busy Route 9D.
"OSI is eager to make parks and protected land more welcoming for the public, especially here in the Hudson Highlands,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO." The Chalet project, along with our extensive trail improvement and conservation efforts in the area, make the spectacular natural resources of this region safer and more accessible for visitors. Thanks to the Environmental Protection Fund, projects like this are being completed across the."
"While this property, the former Chalet on the Hudson catering and event space is only about two acres, it will have a large impact by allowing State Parks to create a relocated trailhead and amenities for Hudson Highlands that will help with pedestrian safety on Route 9D," said New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid.
The property is also part of a state-designated scenic area that is a critical viewshed for numerous parks, Revolutionary War historic sites, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The site will help maintain the region's ecological integrity by protecting wildlife bio-corridors and preserving scenic viewsheds in an area of development pressure.
State Sen. Sue Serino said, "Today's announcement is a tremendous win for visitors and residents alike. Relocating this popular trailhead will not only improve access to this great natural attraction but will also drastically improve safety in the area. As even more New Yorkers were looking for unique ways to get outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, popularity of the Hudson Highlands State Park and Breakneck Ridge Trail only continued to grow. We are grateful to State Parks for their commitment to preserving and improving this popular destination and very much look forward to the project's completion."
Assembly Member Sandy Galef said, "The acquisition of this land near Breakneck Ridge is a tremendous asset to the hikers that enjoy this area as well as making safer conditions on the roadway."
Hudson Highlands State Park is one of the most-visited Parks in the Taconic Region, drawing more than 3.1 million visitors over the last decade. The park's Breakneck Ridge trail is one of the most popular in the Hudson Valley, and nation, served by its own Metro-North Train Station.
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands, and sustain communities. Founded in 1974 to protect significant landscapes in New York State, OSI has been a partner in the protection of nearly 2.3 million acres in North America.
In and around the western Hudson Highlands, OSI has protected more than 26,000 acres, creating additional parkland at Hudson Highlands, Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park, and Schunnemunk state parks. Most recently, OSI has partnered Fahnestock State Park to open the new Big Woods Drive Trailhead. Earlier this year OSI also partnered with the Unites States Military Academy cadets for the fourth consecutive year to build new pedestrian trail bridges at Fahnestock State Park, a partnership that provides cadets engineering majors with real-world design and build experience while improving the park for the public. In 2020, OSI launched an extensive plan to improve recreational access at Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park and upgrade overall public access; provide enhanced wayfinding signs for navigation; better accommodate new and existing users to the park; and deepen visitor engagement. In 2014, OSI secured the Hudson Highlands' largest-ever conservation easement on Black Rock Forest, then donated the easement to the State of New York, guaranteeing public access to nearly 60 miles of hiking trails.