ULSTER COUNTY, NY (March 2, 2018)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) are announcing the kick-off of improvement work along a 12-mile section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the celebrated multi-use recreational trail and linear park connecting Wallkill to Kingston. The initial work will include clearing of overgrown hazard trees and shrubs along the rail trail corridor. The overall improvements will set the stage for including it in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s transformative Empire State Trail, to open in 2019.
Commencing by the end of February, the clearing work will be donated by volunteers, organizations, local businesses and the Town of Rosendale Highway Department along the Rail Trail in the towns of Rosendale and Ulster, excluding a small quarter-mile section by Williams Lake. Later improvements will be funded by a 2013 NYS Recreational Trails Program grant and a 2017 NYS Environmental Protection Fund grant, both secured by OSI in partnership with WVLT. Private fundraising efforts will provide additional support toward the $750,000 project.
"OSI is excited to be moving ahead with Improvements to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, and, ultimately, setting the stage for the transformative Empire State Trail," said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI. "OSI's commitment to this trail builds on our ongoing efforts to construct the River-to-Ridge Trail in nearby New Paltz and our earlier restoration of the Rosendale Trestle. This world-class recreational destination will be used and enjoyed by residents of Ulster County and beyond for generations to come."
The clearing will establish an 8’- 10’ wide passage for the entire approximately 12-mile Rail Trail length, and will prepare the path for major improvements that WVLT and OSI will be undertaking in 2018 to serve the ever-increasing trail visitation and prepare for opening of the Empire State Trail by 2019. Future work is to include:
- Repairing three small bridges and installing railings;
- Repairing and fencing culverts and drainage infrastructure as needed;
- Addressing drainage issues, including adding new infrastructure;
- Improving road crossings;
- Constructing a disability access path from the Binnewater Parking Lot to the Rosendale Trestle, and;
- Regrading the entire 12-mile section of the Rail Trail.
“This clearing work and the subsequent repairs and improvements to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail will make the trail safer and more enjoyable for everyone that walks, hikes, runs, bikes, skis, or otherwise uses the Rail Trail,” says Hensley Evans, President of WVLT. “Getting people outside and connected to the land is at the core of our mission as an organization and the Rail Trail helps us to do achieve this for the thousands of visitors and residents alike who visit it throughout the year.”
The Rail Trail will continue to be open to the public, though there may be brief spot closures for safety reasons.
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a 23.7-mile trail and linear park that runs along the former Wallkill Valley railroad corridor in Ulster County. Hikers, joggers, cyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers use the trail, which sees some over 100,000 visitors annually.
The Empire State Trail, planned for completion in 2020, will create a 750-mile bike and walking pathway from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo. The trail will drive economic growth and boost tourism in communities along its route. More information about the trail can be found here.