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October 17, 2019
News
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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Stewards Ready for Ashokan Rail Trail Opening
Ashokan Rail Trail in the Catskills is seen in the fall. Photo by John Currie.

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The Ashokan Rail Trail, a long-awaited multi-use trail in Ulster County, New York, will be opened to the public on Friday, Oct. 18. The trail—running along the northern edge of the Ashokan Reservoir between Basin Road in West Hurley and Route 28A in Boiceville—is opening just in time to enjoy the best of fall outdoors in the Catskills.

From Ulster County:

"Proposed in 2012, the Ashokan Rail Trail (ART) will create a world-class public recreational trail.... The ART will be 10 to 12 feet in width and surfaced with a compacted crushed stone surface that is accessible for persons with disabilities and limited mobility. Once completed, the ART will be open to the public dawn-to-dusk, year-round for non-motorized uses, including hiking, bicycling, running, nature observation, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The ART will provide the first public access to the incredibly scenic northern shores of the Ashokan Reservoir without a special New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) access permit in more than a century. The ART will also be a key component of a developing interconnected rail trail system linking the Walkway Over the Hudson to the Catskill Park."

After a decade of planning and years of construction, Ulster County is now opening the first 9 miles of the trail. The full 11.5 miles should be open by the end of this year. In 2013, the Trail Conference commissioned and helped fund (along with the Dyson Foundation, and Hudson River Ventures) an economic impact analysis that helped pave the way for the feasibility study that ultimately helped to make the trail a reality.

The Trail Conference is playing an important role in ensuring visitors to the new Ashokan Rail Trail have a great, safe experience. Ulster County officials have been working with the Trail Conference and Woodstock Land Conservancy to develop and roll out a volunteer Trail Steward program. "Trail Stewards will help to ensure that the trail is enjoyed and used responsibly by all," said Deputy-Director of Ulster County Planning Department Chris White. "These volunteers will also help to keep the county informed about trail maintenance issues that may arise."

On Oct. 5, the Trail Conference led trail steward training in Woodstock, N.Y., in preparation for the grand opening of the new Ashokan Rail Trail. Thirty-seven Volunteer Trail Stewards attended the session, which included an introduction to stewarding, rules and regulations of the area, prohibited activities along the trail, discussions about interacting and connecting with visitors, information on natural resource protection, Leave No Trace education, data collection, elevator speeches, role playing, maintenance reporting, emergency protocols, and more.

The Trail Conference has also developed a specific trail map for the Ashokan Rail Trail area. Trailhead parking for the new section is off of Route 28 in West Hurley, west of Zena Road and east of the Route 375 intersection.

Learn more about the ART at ashokanrailtrail.com.

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tm752's picture

It's too bad that the Ulster County government would not consider the combination of "rail and trail" which was proposed and doable. Not only is this rail line being expanded for tourist trains farther into the Catskills but as the rest of the country is adding new rail lines, Ulster County is ripping theirs out.

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