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The newly-opened Ashokan Rail Trail on the north side of the Ashokan Reservoir is ridiculously wonderful. Ulster County and the DEP have absolutely aced this project. If you’re a walker, runner or cyclist, this is nine miles of absolute heaven. And unlike other promenades around the reservoir, dogs are allowed.
- In July of 2021 I finally had my bike repaired and cycled the 11½ mile length of the Rail Trail and back — full report at that link
The trail was developed by the County of Ulster and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) which owns and operates the Ashokan Reservoir and adjacent lands. A further 2½ miles is anticipated to open in December.
The completely flat trail surface, which ranges 10-12 feet in width, is composed of highly compacted crushed stone. The trail is ADA compliant and accessible for persons with disabilities.
The entire length of the promenade is open for non-motorized uses, including hiking, bicycling, running, nature observation, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing and, eventually, will offer three large public trailheads.
The only current official parking lot is just off Route 28 on the very northeast corner of the reservoir. It’s quite large but there’s such enthusiasm for the project that, at 3pm on this second Saturday after the grand opening, there was a long line of cars waiting for spots to open up.
The development is so well-planned and executed, it’s sure to be a massive draw for decades to come. Countless thousands of people can now enjoy a free and easily-accessible public amenity. There are not nearly enough planned parks in the area. I hope Ulster County will look at this success and develop many more. What an absolutely wonderful addition to the Catskills.
From New York State Thruway Exit 19 in Kingston take Route 28 West for 5.3 miles to the Woodstock Dike trailhead parking lot. More info at the Ashokan Rail Trail website.