Rail Trail Network earns honor from conservancy
POUGHKEEPSIE >> The Hudson Valley Rail Trail Network — which includes the Walkway Over the Hudson, Dutchess Rail Trail and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail — was inducted into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Hall of Fame.
The trail network is the 30th such inductee to receive this national recognition. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the conservancy.
A ceremony took place Tuesday on the walkway to celebrate the network’s induction. Ulster County Executive Michael Hein and Dutchess County Executive Michael Hein both accepted the Hall of Fame award.
The conservancy is the largest trails organization in America, representing more than 160,000 members and supporters, including 33,000 in New York. The conservancy selects Hall-of-Fame trails based on such merits as scenic value, high use, trail amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance, community connections and geographic distribution.
“The way that the Hudson Valley Trail Network seamlessly connects three unique trails is a prime example of how integrated trail systems can produce important benefits for communities, including transportation, tourism and economic development,” Rails-to-Trails Conservancy President Keith Laughlin said.
The Hudson Valley Trail Network covers 18 miles and connects the three rail trails, stretching from Highland, over the Hudson River and through Poughkeepsie, to Hopewell Junction.
On the west side of the river, the flat, paved Hudson Valley Rail Trail stretches nearly four miles through hardwood forests, over Black Creek and under two stone-arch bridges. Walkway Over the Hudson runs 212 feet above the river along the steel cantilever truss Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge (which was once the longest bridge in the world) and draws 500,000 visitors annually.