Towns of Kingston and Woodstock—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the final plan for trail construction at a 208-acre property it purchased earlier this year which links two previously unconnected sections of the Catskill Park’s Bluestone Wild Forest: Jockey Hill to the east and Onteora Lake to the west.
The trail construction is set to begin in September and be completed in October. In addition to the trail project, work will be completed on loop trails, a parking area, trailhead, and informational kiosk once the property is conveyed to New York State. The project is expected to expand tourism in Ulster County; connect City of Kingston neighborhoods to the Catskill Park and its High Peaks; and increase outdoor recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors.
Tahawus Trails has been hired to build the new trail with minimal impact to the landscape. Located ten minutes from the New York State Thruway in The Towns of Kingston and Woodstock, the 2-mile “Main Turnpike Trail,” will connect to existing trails within the 3,000-acre Bluestone Wild Forest and establish a new entry point to the forest via Morey Hill Road.
“OSI is excited to continue our work supporting the local recreation economy, expanding visitor access, enhancing community trail connections to local neighborhoods and commercial districts, and dispersing visitors in the Catskill Park,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “This gently sloping, family-oriented trail, running alongside bluestone outcroppings, will be another fun and relaxing way for residents and visitors to enjoy the scenic Bluestone Wild Forest.”
The trail work is proceeding even as local officials continue to review plans to construct a steel and precast concrete manufacturing operation directly adjacent to the OSI-owned land. OSI has weighed in on the proposed project, raising both environmental and procedural concerns about the plant, and continues to advocate for the completion of additional environmental review to ensure the protection of the surrounding land and water.
In May, more than 75 people, including business owners, attended the public information session at the Senate Garage in the City of Kingston where the trail improvement plan was presented. Meeting attendees had the opportunity to learn about and provide input on the plan, which has the potential to advance a regional effort to create hubs of destination-quality hiking and mountain biking trails, diversify recreational use of the Catskill Mountains, and increase economic activity through enhanced year-round recreational opportunities.
Located near several population centers including Kingston and Woodstock, the Bluestone Wild Forest is a popular outdoor recreation destination. The newly protected property figures largely in OSI’s efforts to help support Ulster County’s expanding green tourism economy, relieving pressure on wildly popular trailheads and important summits while also protecting and consolidating significant portions of the Catskill Park.