The Kingston O&W Rail Trail

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Did you know that there is a rail trail that starts in the City of Kingston and goes south to Stone Ridge and beyond?

You may have known about the Hurley Rail Trail that goes south but did you know that there is also a connection to Kingston? The trail-head in Kingston for the O&W Rail Trail is on Washington Avenue next to the Super 8 Motel parking lot behind the Daily Freeman building.

This rail trail has officially been there a long time as the D&H Canal Heritage Corridor Alliance signed license agreements as early 1993 that allowed for public use of the trail through the City of Kingston, Town of Ulster and Town of Hurley.

I started using the O&W trail between Kingston and Hurley in 1982 for bicycling when I got my first mountain bike. Over time the trail between Kingston and Hurley became progressively more overgrown and that hindered the use of the trail. Conditions got so bad by the early 2000s, that to preserve my own skin I started using a machete to keep the single track trail clear. Those trail conditions kept public utilization very low and the trail was not widely promoted. This is a shame as there is a lot of good wildlife habitat along the trail so there is a wide variety of wildlife to see.

Fast forward to April 22, 2012: It was on that date at the Super 8 Motel parking lot that I first met the Kingston Land Trust. I showed up there in response to a notice in the newspaper that there was going to be a trail cleanup on the O&W. From my perspective at the time I was delighted to have help clearing the trail!

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Cleaning up the trail

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A volunteer lending a hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things have changed a lot since that day in April 2012! Since then we have had volunteer help from myriad volunteer groups to clear the trail. The net result is that the brush and trees are now cut back and the grass mowed in the Kingston segment. O&W Trial signage is now being installed at access points along this section. With care, a casual rider can now ride just about any type of bicycle between Kingston and Hurley.

ow3w ow4wow2wow1wBut it gets even better! In the past year the O&W Municipal Coalition was formed to promote the trail from Ellenville to Kingston. Maps, signs, and brochures for the trail are in development now. Ulster County is also in the process of planning the development of the Kingston and Hurley section into a paved multi-use, ADA compliant, trail. It is anticipated that construction may start in 2017.

If you wish to use this section of the O&W Rail Trail there is trail head parking in Hurley on Route 209 by the Esopus Creek. In Kingston there is public parking on Hurley Avenue. Of course cycling or walking to the O&W trailheads is welcome and encouraged!

John Grossbohlin is a veteran long distance touring bicyclist who works on trail and Complete Streets projects with Kingston Land Trust, Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail, and Bike Friendly Kingston. He also represents the City of Kingston on the O&W Rail Trail Coalition of Municipalities committee, and serves on the city’s Complete Streets Advisory Council.

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