The Open Space Institute is playing a big role in bringing the transformative power of trails to communities where we work.
ULSTER COUNTY, NY (October 27, 2017) - Well-maintained, easily accessible trails can play an important role in making communities more livable, healthy, and prosperous. Trails can provide family-friendly fun and support active lifestyles for people of all ages and physical abilities — and they have the power to increase property values, attract regional tourism, and stimulate local economies.
The Open Space Institute (OSI) is playing a big role in bringing the transformative power of trails to communities where we work. Thriving parks and access to trails promote vibrant, healthy communities. As OSI reinvigorates, repairs, and develops trails in and around the Shawangunk Ridge, our projects are bringing these places closer to achieving a vision as a world class destination for trails.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
At Minnewaska State Park, OSI is leading efforts to protect and restore the park’s world-renowned and historic carriage road network. We have fundraised and completed restoration of a selection of Minnewaska’s gentle, crushed shale carriage roads, including Hamilton Point, Castle Point, a portion of Awosting Lake, and a portion of the Old Smiley and High Point Carriage Roads.
The River-to-Ridge Trail
On the eastern side of the Shawangunk Ridge in New Paltz, OSI is constructing the River-to-Ridge Trail, a 6-mile loop trail that will travel along the Wallkill River and through scenic farmland, connecting to the Mohonk Preserve and the foothills of the Shawangunks. The much-anticipated trail will offer hikers, cyclists and cross-country skiers a spectacularly scenic and safe way of getting from New Paltz to the preserved lands on the Shawangunk Ridge.
After permanently protecting the Rosendale Trestle and 11.5 miles of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail between New Paltz and Kingston, OSI led a campaign to raise $1.5 million for structural improvements, turning a dilapidated railroad bridge into a regional asset. The completion of the Rosendale Trestle restoration was critical in our effort to create a continuous, 24-mile recreational rail trail running from the southern border of the Town of Gardiner to the City of Kingston.
Since its opening in 2013, thousands of people have crossed the historic trestle. At an elevation of 150 feet high and 940 feet long, this vivid landmark looks out over the Rondout Creek and provides exquisite views of the Shawangunk Ridge, Joppenbergh Mountain, and the Binnewater Hills.
Wawarsing O&W Rail Trail
West of the Shawangunk Ridge, OSI’s acquisition of several stretches of the O&W Rail Trail in Wawarsing is now part of a growing 29-mile rail trail and recreation corridor in the Rondout Valley. Once connected to other trails in the area, the former railroad bed and canal bed will contribute to the creation of a unified trail network spanning much of Ulster County—from the Village of Ellenville to the City of Kingston, and east to the Walkway Over the Hudson.
The O&W parcels in Wawarsing are the fourth important stretch of railbed acquired by OSI since 2009. In addition, OSI has also protected 9.1 miles of O&W railbed in the Catskills, the Rosendale Trestle, four miles of rail trail in the Town of Mamakating, and 11.5 miles of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is slated to be included as part of the Empire State Trail.
The goal for the rail trails in the Shawangunk Region is to create a multi-use recreation corridor which will run through much of Ulster County’s varied scenery — extensive farmland, forest, and wetlands — as well as its numerous hamlets.
As OSI looks to the future, our ultimate vision, the creation of a trail network linking regions across the mid-Hudson River Valley, is within reach. The acquisitions and restorations being pursued by OSI and many other partners are changing the way that communities in Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange Counties work, play, explore, and connect to the outdoors. As OSI works to enhance and transform beloved parks and other recreational spaces, they are helping to connect families and people of all ages to the outdoors while creating a healthier, more vibrant future.