In 2009, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) in partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI), acquired 11.5 miles of rail trail between the towns of New Paltz and Kingston, NY. This acquisition almost doubled the length of the original Wallkill Valley Rail Trail which WVLT holds conservation easements on. The highlight of the 2009 purchase was the iconic 940-foot-long Rosendale Railroad Trestle.
After a $1.5 million renovation, the Rosendale Trestle opened to in 2013 providing the most spectacular vista on the scenic Rail Trail. While the Trestle is only a short walk from the Town of Rosendale, and is clearly visible from many Main Street businesses, it spans 150 feet above Route 213 and Rondout Creek. Access into the Town from the Trestle and extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail exists via a busy County Road with limited sidewalks, and small shoulders - making pedestrian access a challenge!
That changed on June 28th, 2014. Thanks to the generous support of donors and a New York State Conservation Partnership Program Catalyst Grant from the Land Trust Alliance, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust was excited to announce the opening of a Connector Trail under the Trestle. "Along with our partners, Open Space Institute, we knew it was critical that visitors and residents be able to get to the Town of Rosendale and back to the recreational Rail Trail," stated Christie DeBoer, Executive Director of WVLT. "We are also working closely with the Town to ensure this trail fits with the larger scope of connectivity."
The pedestrian trail was designed and constructed by a professional consulting firm, Tahawus Trails. The natural materials used, and the layout illustrate a carefully planned trail that is meant to provide a positive user experience while also needing little maintenance. The Connector Trail was designed in conjunction with the extensive storm water drainage project, which was completed in the spring at the south end of the Trestle.
There is, as always, more to do to improve the extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, but the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, and its partner, Open Space Institute, hope all enjoy this new connection to the Town of Rosendale.
"The restoration of the Rosendale Trestle is among the Open Space Institute's proudest recreational success stories to date" stated Kim Elliman, President & CEO, OSI. "Not only does the Trestle provide a new and exciting way to appreciate this beautiful section of the Rondout Valley, it has become a tremendous, economically significant attraction for the Town of Rosendale. With today's announcement about the opening of the connector trail, we are adding another chapter to the Rosendale Trestle success."
Future improvements to the extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and this Connector Trail will include signage assisting visitors traveling into Town and to the Rail Trail. Additionally, Rail Trail improvements are expected start in the coming months thanks to grant funding acquired by OSI and WVLT.