Project Status: Open to the Public
The Ashokan Rail Trail (“ART”) was designed and constructed by Ulster County. It was partially opened to the public in October 2019 with the remainder opening by late November 2019. The ART is 12 feet in width and surfaced with a compacted crushed stone surface that is accessible for persons with disabilities and limited mobility. The ART is open from sunrise to sunset every day for non-motorized uses including hiking, bicycling, running, nature observation, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Dogs on leash are allowed on the ART, which can be accessed from one of three public trailheads located in West Hurley, Shokan, and Boiceville. For more information on the ART and the trail map, please visit: www.ashokanrailtrail.com
Proposed in 2012 by Ulster County, the Ashokan Rail Trail (“ART”) was designed to create a world-class public recreational trail running 11.5 miles along the northern edge of the Ashokan Reservoir between Basin Road in West Hurley and Route 28A in Boiceville. The ART has provided the first public access to the incredibly scenic northern shores of the Ashokan Reservoir without a special DEP permit since Ashokan Reservoir was constructed more than a century ago. The ART is also a key component of eventually developing an interconnected rail trail system linking the Walkway Over the Hudson and Empire State Trail to the Catskill Park.
The ART was constructed on the County-owned Ulster & Delaware (“U&D”) Railroad Corridor, pursuant to Ulster County Legislative Resolution No. 488 of December 2015 and in cooperation with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”). The ART segment of the U&D was abandoned in 1977 and had not been used for train service in 40 years. This segment was delineated for conversion to a rail trail as part of the County’s segmented “rail-with-trail” policy, which also allowed tourism rail operations in the Kingston and Mount Tremper segments of the U&D corridor.
Planning, preliminary design, and environmental review for the ART began in June 2016 by the Department of Planning working with its engineering consultant, Barton & Loguidice DPC. Construction of the ART was commenced in January 2018 and completed in December 2019. The four phases of construction included removal of the railroad track, construction of 11.5 miles of trail, reconstruction of the Boiceville Bridge over the Esopus Creek, installation of a new bridge at Butternut Creek to replace a failed major culvert, rehabilitation of the corridor’s drainage system, construction of a 500-foot boardwalk spanning a wetland area, and construction of three public trailheads.
The approximately $16.2 million project received approximately $10.9 million in outside funding through the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Parks, and the Catskill Watershed Corporation. The project also received critical early support during the feasibility study phase from Open Space Institute, the Woodstock Land Conservancy, the Dyson Foundation, and numerous private donors. With an average of more than 16,000 visitors per month since its opening, the ART has relied on volunteer Trail Stewards to assist with the operation of the ART, which is made possible through a continuing partnership with the NY-NJ Trail Conference and Woodstock Land Conservancy.
Follow the ART on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AshokanRailTrail