Building on a 30-year commitment to land conservation in and around Fahnestock State Park in New York’s Hudson Valley, the Open Space Institute and New York State announced the opening of new parking and trail access at Fahnestock State Park and the Appalachian Trail in Putnam County. The new Big Woods Drive and Appalachian Trail trailheads are part of a series of OSI-led park enhancement projects aimed making the park more welcoming to visitors by improving access to OSI-protected land, adding new parking areas to enhance safety, and adding wayfinding signage for better navigation.
The $5 million project was planned, funded, and constructed by OSI through a generous contribution from the Topfield Foundation and prominent Hudson Valley conservationist and philanthropist, Anne Perkins Cabot.
Under the project, a new trailhead and 25-car parking lot is now open off State Route 301 west of Canopus Lake, which will reduce current hiker parking along the busy highway. The project also includes a second new trailhead and 15-car parking lot off Route 301 for the nearby Appalachian Trail, as well as Fahnestock State Park gateway signage at US Route 9 and the Taconic State Parkway announcing arrival at the park.
OSI President and CEO Kim Elliman said, "OSI's construction of the Big Woods Drive and internal trailhead is helping visitors fully enjoy this scenic landscape by creating new interior access to the Fahnestock land that OSI has protected over the past decades and turning Route 301 into a true park drive. Thanks to the generosity of Anne Cabot, this project will improve visitor safety, navigation, and access to the park and is helping people of all abilities love and appreciate this unparalleled landscape."
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "State Parks is grateful for this partnership with OSI and the generous support of Anne Perkins Cabot, whose family has been such stewards and advocates for the Hudson Highlands for many years. These projects will help more people safely reach the trails at Fahnestock and the Appalachian Trail to experience the beauty of this area."
The Perkins-Cabot family has lived in the area for decades and in 1991, transferred more than 1,700 acres to OSI that eventually became part of Fahnestock State Park. Cabot is a founding family member of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and is also a board member of the Palisades Parks Conservancy.
Anne Cabot said, "My grandfather, George Perkins, followed by his son, my father, loved the Hudson Valley. This love inspired them to protect the land and build partnerships that would forever expand the public's enjoyment of this region. As the public's use and appreciation for the land has grown and evolved over the years, they would have loved that the project we celebrate today, created through a partnership between New York State Parks, the Open Space Institute, and the Topfield Foundation, will continue their vision of conservation, stewardship, and public access to a landscape our family has treasured for generations."
Senator Sue Serino said, "With New Yorkers taking to our green spaces like never before, we are grateful to OSI and to Anne Perkins Cabot for making an investment that will enable countless residents and visitors alike to safely explore the great Fahnestock State Park. These trailheads and designated parking areas are exciting additions to the local area, and we hope these projects will serve as models to inspire other partnerships throughout the Hudson Valley where similar challenges exist."
Assembly Member Sandy Galef said, "This past year has shown us just how crucial access to open spaces in nature is for mental and physical well-being. The opening of the new parking and trailheads at Fahnestock State Park could not be more timely as hikers and enthusiasts of the outdoors will be all the more eager to get outside this summer. Thank you to the Cabot Family for protecting this Hudson Valley landscape and to the Open Space Institute's vision and commitment for bringing this project to life."
During the last decade, more than three million people have visited Fahnestock State Park, which is spread across more than 14,000 acres in Putnam and Dutchess counties. Annual visitation at the park is up more than 38 percent during this period.
Fahnestock State Park has more than 62 miles of hiking trails, as well as 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches about 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine.
In 2016, OSI raised more than $1.2 million to renovate the Canopus Beach/Winter Park Complex at Fahnestock and improve trails and trailheads. OSI is continuing its commitment to this beloved landscape by carrying out critically needed repairs and access improvements so that future generations can continue to enjoy the park.