The trail, built in partnership with Mohonk Preserve, will provide a connection from the Village of New Paltz to the pathways and carriage roads of the Shawangunk Ridge, once the Preserve’s Foothills Loop section is complete. The opening of the River-to-Ridge Trail was celebrated by a community first bike and hike.
“The Open Space Institute is ecstatic to open the River-to-Ridge Trail,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “River-to-Ridge showcases how protected land not only safeguards our natural resources and provides terrific recreational opportunities, but how it can also strengthen communities and support local economies.”
Elliman thanked the community for its support and patience as the OSI trail work progressed. He also expressed appreciation for the many partners who have supported the effort, including Mohonk Preserve, Ulster County, the Village of New Paltz and the Town of New Paltz. He also expressed deep gratitude to the Butler Conservation Fund, which directly supported the visioning and construction of the trail.
“Gil Butler shared our vision of creating a trail along the Wallkill River and rolling foothills just west of New Paltz and creating a connection to the Shawangunk Ridge. This project is a great example of partners working together toward the goal of protecting land for public benefit and enjoyment,” Elliman added.
The $1.7 million project includes construction of the 6-mile loop trail, as well as improvements to an existing parking lot on Springtown Road, which serves as the project’s trailhead. The trail traverses 360 acres of land, all protected by OSI over four years.
“We commend OSI for bringing to fruition many years of partnership with the Preserve, Ulster County, the Town and Village of New Paltz, and the many organizations and citizens who were committed to creating a safe, off-road trail from the Wallkill River to the Shawangunk Ridge,” said Mohonk Preserve President Glenn Hoagland. “We’re happy to continue working with our conservation partners at OSI on this great new pathway to nature that will help our community and visitors enjoy healthy outdoor activities like hiking, running, biking and cross-country skiing.”
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said, “The Open Space Institute’s development of the River-to-Ridge Trail was a key part of my decision to rebuild the Route 299 bridge across the Wallkill with improvements for bike and pedestrian users, and its completion represents a major milestone in the creation of an interconnected trail system that will soon stretch across Ulster County, from the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains, and from the farms of the Wallkill and Rondout Valleys to the heart of Kingston. These trails are more than just a great place to take a stroll – they represent an innovative partnership between nonprofits, businesses and government that will help to ensure that Ulster County’s tourism sector, which generated $587 million last year in spending, will continue to attract new visitors and improve the quality of life for our residents.”
New York State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill said, “Once again, the Open Space Institute (OSI) is to be commended for the expansion of public access to the beauty and splendor of our great Hudson Valley/Catskill Mountain region. The creation of a new, safe link between the Wallkill River and the magnificent scenic routes of the Shawangunk Ridge will provide pedestrians and cyclists, alike, with a dedicated pathway to view the picturesque landscape that the ‘Gunks has to offer. Several years ago, we were successful in designating Ridge roads as an official Scenic Byway. This trail beautifully complements that achievement. The Assembly has long taken the lead in assuring maximum funding for open space and trail development. That said, it is often and once again the good work of private organizations, such as OSI, that bring to fruition decades of commitment to these monumental projects. As a proud member of the Environmental Caucus of the National Council of State Legislatures, projects such as these and the shared commitment to open space continue to give New Yorkers bragging rights all over the United States. These trails, bringing us significantly further along to a statewide interconnected trail system, will allow members of this community and visitors alike to enjoy the Ridge and all that this enhancement has to offer.”
“Open space and the opportunity for outdoor recreation are two key factors in New Paltz’s status as a premier tourism destination. Expanding access contributes exponentially to the local economy as visitors come from near and far to enjoy the vistas of the Shawangunk Ridge and support our local businesses and farmers,” said Neil Bettez, the Supervisor for the Town of New Paltz. “We are deeply grateful to OSI for preserving this valuable asset and bringing to fruition what was just a goal in the Town’s 2006 Open Space Plan a decade ago.”
“This magnificent trail is a gift to the residents and visitors of the Village of New Paltz. The trail, which allows walkers, hikers, and bikers to safely bypass Route 299, will help connect everyone to this remarkable landscape,” said Tim Rogers, the Mayor of the City of New Paltz. “It’s clear that the River-to-Ridge Trail has been built to world-class standards and it provides us with better access to see and visit these treasured properties of Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park.”
About the Trail
The River-to-Ridge Trail will allow walkers, runners, hikers, cyclists, equestrians and others to enjoy access to the Shawangunk Ridge.
The trail permanently opens this irreplaceable scenic, agricultural, and recreational landscape to the public while preserving the community character of New Paltz. Running alongside active farmland, this off-road, multi-use trail features both growing fields and livestock grazing paddocks, enhancing recreational and farming opportunities while also connecting the community to centuries of local farms and farmers.
Mohonk Preserve is securing permits to complete the 2.3-mile Foothills Loop section of the River-to-Ridge Trail, which OSI will build. The Foothills loop, which will include a section of Lenape Lane, part of the Preserve’s historic carriage road network, the newly restored White Oak Bend Path, and Pine Road, will ultimately provide a connection to the Shawangunk Ridge and Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The Mohonk Preserve Foothills Loop section of the trail is expected to be completed in the early summer of 2019.
Through a partnership between OSI and New Paltz Biking, bike rentals are available at the trail’s Springtown Road parking lot. The concession at the Springtown Road trailhead also provides a free hydration station to fill water bottles, as well as a dog waste station with bags and refuse receptacles.
In addition, OSI acknowledges the generous donation of a robust bike repair stand by the Red Devil Bike Club.
About OSI in the Region
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands, and sustain communities from Canada to Florida.
Over the past four decades, OSI has protected nearly 33,000 acres on and around the Shawangunk Ridge, in Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties—a total more than twice the size of Manhattan. This 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.
Committed to protecting the 50-mile Shawangunk Ridge and improving public access to protected lands, OSI is also supporting the creation of a local rail trail network, rebuilding Victorian-era carriage roads, and adding a visitor center to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. In partnership with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, OSI also restored the Rosendale Trestle.