Our region is famed for its breathtaking mountains and endless hiking trails, attracting nature-lovers from all over the country. The rocky terrain that draws avid hikers to the Hudson Highlands, however, can also be a barrier for people with mobility issues. To remedy that, the Black Rock Forest Consortium created a Visitor Access Pathway that is accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, and anyone else who has trouble navigating other trails.
Construction for Phase 1 of Black Rock Forest Consortium’s new Visitor Access Pathway has been completed and is ready for the public. For the past few years, the Consortium has worked to secure a total of $570,000 for this project, landing two grants from New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund for two phases of construction of the Forest's first accessible trail.
Per the grant requirements, the Consortium provides a one-to-one match of cash, staff and volunteer labor, as well as in-kind materials like native stone, putting the total project cost at well over $1 million. Phase One of the project has created a pedestrian-only trail of crushed stone, similar to a carriage road, extending from the Consortium's public parking lot on Reservoir Road for 1,500 feet through the woods to a scenic area with gorgeous views north to the Shawangunks and Catskills. This approximately quarter-mile trail will be completely accessible to those with mobility impairments. Families with strollers will also enjoy this new path.
About The Trail
The new pathway, opening on October 21, is 10 feet wide and in full compliance with ADA building standards and trail guidelines. At over a quarter-mile long, the pathway meanders through mature forests and past fern-covered cliffs, and it makes some of the region’s most rewarding views accessible to everyone.
“We are looking forward to welcoming many people to Black Rock Forest for the first time, where they will discover an intact, native ecosystem that is home to a great diversity of wildlife, including more than 160 bird species,” said the Consortium’s executive director, Bill Schuster.
In addition to the birds and rare species of flora and fauna, visitors will be able to see 50 miles up the Hudson Valley, north to the Catskill and Shawangunk mountains. “The Black Rock Forest Visitor Access Pathway will provide meaningful outdoor experiences for people in places where they have not had them before,” said Douglas Hovey, the executive director of Independent Living, Inc. “There are very few outdoor resources for people with disabilities; therefore, this addition at Black Rock Forest is significant for thousands of people living with disabilities in the Hudson Valley.”
Visitors will be able to sit along the pathway on ADA-accessible benches built from Black Rock Forest wood. A second building phase to expand the trail is planned for 2017-2018.
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony - Open to the Public
The Black Rock Forest Consortium, Independent Living, the New York State Parks Commissioner, and local government representatives are hosting an opening ceremony event on Friday, October 21, at 10 am for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and ecology stroll. RSVP to (845) 534-4517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parking for the Visitor Access Pathway will be at the main Black Rock Forest parking lot, which is off of Reservoir Road (off of 9W). The lot is to the right just before you reach the Black Rock Forest green metal entrance gate. This is also where the trailhead for the pathway is.