Hikers, cyclists and pedestrians alike gathered in the early Saturday morning at 41 Springtown Road to celebrate the opening of a brand-new trail, dubbed the River-to-Ridge trail.
The first portion of the trail features a six-mile loop trail connecting the Walkhill Valley Rail Trail to the footpaths of the Shawangunk Mountains. The trail was made possible by a collaboration between the Open Space Institute (OSI) and Mohonk Preserve, with additional support from the Butler Conservation Fund.
“We [The Open Space Institute] have done a lot of work in the Shawangunk region. We’ve successfully conserved about 33,000 acres of land in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster County along the Ridge. Our most favorite place to work was Mohonk,” Eileen Larrabee, Director of Communications for the Open Space Institute, said in a statement. “We had this vision of creating a trail from New Paltz to the Ridge.”
As most residents confidently state, no trip to New Paltz is complete without a visit to the Shawangunk Mountains. The new River-to-Ridge trail paves great opportunities for residents who previously haven’t been able to enjoy the Ridge due to limitations such as not having a source of transportation.
This 1.7 million-dollar project aims to change this, making the journey from New Paltz to the Ridge safe, easy and enjoyable for everyone.
New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers gave a statement earlier this week further explaining how exactly the trail would benefit all residents.
“[The new trail is] going to be good for young families, strollers, to seniors and older folk who are looking for a way to get outside. There are beautiful sweeping views and a nice gradual incline for people of all skill levels,” he said.
Rogers addressed safety concerns, particularly for cyclists, whose only option for reaching the Gunks is to traverse Route 299.
“Runners, cyclists, or anyone who previously tried to get to the Ridge any other way than via car will now be able to more safely on OSI’s trail, versus sharing roads with vehicles traveling 55 mph,” he said.
Residents have had nothing but positive comments on the completed trail.
“I will say it has been warmly and enthusiastically anticipated. We see people out there and people coming up and thanking us for the trail,” Larrabee said.
There are still a lot more trails coming for residents to look forward to.
“The portion of the trail on the Preserve’s property, which is being built by OSI, is still under construction and is slated to open in summer of 2019,” said Gretchen Reed, Director of Marketing & Communications at Mohonk Preserve. “The Mohonk Preserve Foothills Loop Trail will extend the River-to-Ridge Trail by an additional 2.3 miles, and link the trail to the Preserve and the carriage road network on the Shawangunk Ridge.”