Kim Elliman's Your Environment podcast on the Mid-Hudson News - June 1, 2012
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 2 is National Trails Day, and the Open Space Institute invites you to get outdoors and explore the miles of trails that run throughout the Hudson River Valley. OSI in particular has made many contributions to New York’s extensive network of trails.
One of our major initiatives of the past few years has been the restoration and extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County. In August 2009, OSI and its partners at the Wallkill Valley Land Trust acquired 11.5 miles of railroad bed, doubling its current length to nearly 24 miles. Once it is extended, the trail will run through the towns of Gardiner, New Paltz, Rosendale and Ulster, and on to Kingston.
One of the scenic highlights along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is the historic railroad trestle that towers 150 feet over Rondout Creek and Route 213 in Rosendale. OSI and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust launched the “Track the Trestle” fundraising campaign in 2011 to renovate and repair the 115-year-old bridge.
We expect the trestle to be completed and reopened to the public this year. Keep track of its progress at www.trackthetrestle.org.
The Long Path is another one of the most-traveled trails in the region, beginning at the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan and heading through the Hudson Valley, before it reaches the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest in Ulster County. From there, it continues north, through the 5,400-acre Sam’s Point Preserve and Vernooy State Forest, also 5,400 acres, and both protected by OSI.
The Path currently ends at John Boyd Thacher State Park, where OSI added 188 acres in 2006, although it may one day run all the way to the Canadian border.
In 2010, OSI acquired a small but strategic 2-acre parcel that filled a gap in the Long Path Trail in the Sullivan County town of Mamakating, connecting Roosa Gap and Wurtsboro Ridge state forests.
The O&W Rail Trail is named for the railroad that carried freight from New York City to upstate New York until 1957. The Kingston to Port Jervis branch of the Trail extends for 65 miles, stretching the entire length of the Shawangunk Ridge.
OSI has protected strips along the Trail in the towns of Wawarsing and Mamakating, but its major contributions on the O&W are the vast landscapes it has preserved along its path.
One of those landscapes, the Basherkill Wildlife Management Area, was one of OSI’s first conservation projects, a 3,000-acre freshwater wetlands preserve that is the largest in southern New York. For now, the O & W Trail ends at the city of Port Jervis, just after passing the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, a 1,510-acre forest located near the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania border.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore. We’ll see you all on the trails.
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