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Key New Paltz Conservation Corridor to Allow Hikers, Skiers and Cyclists Recreational Access from Downtown New Paltz to the Shawangunks
NEW PALTZ, NY— July 27, 2015 —The
Open Space Institute (OSI) and Mohonk Preserve have unveiled the proposed route
of the “River-to-Ridge” trail, the highly-anticipated scenic and recreational off-road
trail leading directly from downtown New Paltz to the Shawangunk Ridge. In
developing the route, now available for review, the groups gave careful
consideration to such matters as avoiding sensitive wetland areas; accommodating
neighboring farming operations; identifying designated parking options; and
choosing proper trail materials and design.
The proposed six-mile loop trail will
be accessible free of charge when it opens in 2016. Hikers, cyclists and others
will enjoy an eight-to-ten foot wide path of gravel and grass that meanders through
farm fields and over gently rolling hills, and allows direct access to 90 miles
of recreational carriage roads and trails at the Mohonk Preserve and the
Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The trail will also enable cyclists to safely bypass
the narrow, congested shoulder of Rt. 299, currently the primary road leading
from New Paltz to the preserves.
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“River-to-Ridge will be a terrific
asset for the community and an important anchor to an ever-expanding, premier
network of recreational trails in the eastern US,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s
President and CEO. “OSI appreciates the public support and positive feedback we
have received since we announced plans for the River-to-Ridge Trail and thank
our partners for their continued commitment to this exciting community project.”
“In addition to being a beautiful loop
trail, the River-to-Ridge Trail will provide a great option for the many
hikers, walkers, runners, cyclists, and cross-country skiers who want to access
the extensive carriage road and trail networks in the Mohonk Preserve Foothills
and on the ridge,” said Mohonk Preserve Executive Director Glenn Hoagland. “We
are happy to be working with our colleagues at OSI to create and steward this
great addition to the growing, connected regional trail system in the Hudson
Since 2013, Mohonk Preserve and OSI
have been working with the Town of New Paltz and the New Paltz Bicycle and
Pedestrian Committee to develop recreational access options from the town to
the Mohonk Preserve Foothills, culminating in a grant from Hudson Valley
Greenway to study trail options.
In February, OSI completed the New
Paltz-Foothills conservation corridor—fulfilling one of the top goals in the
Town of New Paltz Open Space Plan—when it acquired the $2.1 million, 135-acre
“Watchtower” property, long recognized as the downtown’s bucolic backdrop. The
parcel joined the other scenic farmland properties, totaling 1,200 acres, OSI
has protected in the area along the route of the River-to-Ridge Trail: the
856-acre Mohonk Preserve Foothills tract, which was subsequently sold to Mohonk
Preserve, the 144-acre Van Alst farm, and the Studley farm on Butterville Road.
Just days after the Watchtower transaction
was finalized, OSI and Mohonk Preserve worked with the adjacent Wallkill View
Farm and its supportive owners, the Ferrante family, to open it for public
cross-country skiing and allow local residents to take advantage of last
winter’s excellent snow conditions.
Preparing for Public Access
Since February, OSI and Mohonk Preserve
have conducted strategic planning and outreach to neighboring property owners
in developing the preliminary trail map, which will go before the New Paltz
planning board this summer.
After the proposed trail receives
public input and is approved by the New Paltz Planning Board, the groups will secure
the appropriate permits for OSI to begin construction of the trail and associated
footbridges, kiosks and culverts.
Once in place, OSI will lead, with the cooperation
of the Mohonk Preserve, patrolling of the new trail. The groups will also ensure
that it is maintained for public use and that it best balances the interests of
recreational users and area residents, and allows the successful Wallkill View
Farm to continue to thrive.
Parking will also be in place for trail
users at one of the existing trailheads on Springtown Road; at the Sojourner
Truth Park parking lot southeast of the Carmine Liberta Bridge in New Paltz;
near the Village Water Treatment Plant; and at the end of Pine Road. In the
future, Mohonk Preserve is planning to offer additional off-road parking in the
Mohonk Preserve Foothills.
All projects associated with the trails
will be privately funded by OSI and its partners, with no additional costs to
the town or county. OSI will continue to pay real property taxes on the
approximately 350 acres it owns between the river and the ridge where the trail
will run. Where the River-to-Ridge Trail’s Foothills Loop merges onto Mohonk
Preserve land, a special marked loop through the foothills landscape will be
available at no fee before the trail goes uphill into Mohonk Preserve.
Building a Premier Recreational Trail
Looking ahead, OSI is working with a
number of public and private partners to build on the success in expanding a
recreational trail network in the Shawangunk region. Ultimately these trails will
connect into a nearly 116-mile network to include the Wallkill Valley Rail
Trail, O&W Rail Trail and the proposed Catskill Mountain Rail Trail.
The centerpiece of this regional trail system
is the 90-mile-long network of Victorian-era carriage roads located within
Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Mohonk Preserve on the Shawangunk Ridge.
Over the past several years, OSI has fundraised and completed restoration on
the Hamilton Point Carriage Road and is currently rebuilding the Castle Point
Carriage Road as it runs from Lake Minnewaska to Lake Awosting at Minnewaska
State Park Preserve. OSI is also in the planning and engineering phase of
restoring the High Point Carriage Road and a portion of the Old Smiley Carriage
Road, with the goal that users will be able to travel on carriage roads from
New Paltz all the way to Sam’s Point at the southern end of Minnewaska State
Mohonk Preserve has also fundraised for
and restored over half of its 33-mile portion of the historic Shawangunk
carriage roads system, including five bridges; the Undercliff, Overcliff and
Laurel Ledge Carriage Roads; Bonticou and Cedar Drive and others, and is in the
process of restoring the Trapps Carriage Road and Trapps Bridge over route
44/55 linking to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Through grants from the Hudson
River Valley Greenway, Nyquist Foundation of New Paltz and the Butler
Conservation Fund at OSI, Mohonk Preserve was recently able to restore the
lower Duck Pond Road and White Oak Path to enhance access in the Mohonk
The River-to-Ridge Trail marks another
milestone in the long legacy of Shawangunk Ridge carriage roads and trails that
have provided pathways to nature for over a century. Through the joint efforts
of OSI, Mohonk Preserve and other conservation partners, these enhanced
pathways will continue to serve the community for generations to come.
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