Expanded Huckleberry Ridge State Forest Offers More Trails and Open Space for Recreational Tourists and Residents
Event Marked Transfer of 389 Acres to State Forest
GREENVILLE, NY: On Friday, June 3, 2011, representatives of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) met at the trailhead for the Minisink Trail on Route 6 in Greenville to mark expansion of recreational trail opportunities in the region and the transfer to the state of 389 acres on the Shawangunk Ridge. The land is to be added to Huckleberry Ridge State Forest in Orange County. Following the 10am press event, hikers explored the Minisink and Lenape Ridge Trails in the company of experienced Trail Conference volunteers. (Directions to trailhead are below.)
Just a decade ago, no state forest land existed on the Shawangunk Ridge in Orange County. With this transfer, Huckleberry Ridge State Forest now comprises nearly 1500 acres.
The Trail Conference was instrumental in creating this state forest, working closely with the Trust for Public Land and DEC on the first 527-acre acquisition nearly a decade ago. The Trail Conference subsequently purchased an additional 980 acres in this region using funds from its Land Acquisition and Stewardship Fund (LASF). With this transfer, 958 of those acres will have been transferred to New York State, nearly tripling the size of the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest.
Protecting this land is key to the Trail Conference’s goal of protecting the 43-mile long Shawangunk Ridge Trail, built in 1992-93 to connect the Appalachian Trail in High Point State Park New Jersey and Sam's Point Preserve in Cragsmoor, NY. The Trail Conference also aims to expand the network of recreational trails in the region. In 2007, Trail Conference volunteers opened two new hiking trails in Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, the Minisink and Lenape Ridge Trails.
These two linked trails offer the opportunity for a 5-mile loop hike with many great view points. With direct connection to the Metro-North train station in the City of Port Jervis, the trails also offer metro area hikers a unique hiking destination. The Lenape Ridge Trail leads into Port Jervis and connects with the Delaware River Heritage Trail. Following this trail will lead you to the Port Jervis Metro-North train station located near the corner of Pike and Front Streets. In the future, the Trail Conference hopes to connect the Lenape Ridge Trail to the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.
The Trail Conference created its Land Acquisition and Stewardship Fund to permanently protect the four long distance trails that its volunteers maintain: Shawangunk Ridge Trail, Long Path, Highlands Trail, and Appalachian Trail. The fund is completely financed through donations by many generous donors. In less than 10 years, the fund has been used to protect many miles of trails, 2,439 acres through direct acquisition, and 2,205 acres through research, purchase options, and mapping assistance.
The Open Space Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and the Orange County Land Trust have also been instrumental in preserving thousands of acres on and near the southern Shawangunk Ridge along with protecting the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.
The Shawangunk Ridge is the northern portion of a 240-mile ridge that stretches from southern Pennsylvania, where it is known as Blue Mountain, through New Jersey, where it called the Kittatinny Mountains, to its northernmost point at the south side of the Roundout River in Rosendale, NY. The Shawangunk Ridge serves as a corridor between to the two largest conservation areas in the region-– the Catskill Forest Preserve and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens stated “the Shawangunk Ridge is listed as a priority project in New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan in recognition of its unique and outstanding array of natural resources, abundant recreational opportunities and scenic significance. The ridge’s 50-mile span is a major east coast flyway for migratory birds, and its forests are habitat for bobcats, black bears, timber rattlesnakes and more than 200 species of nesting birds. We are indebted to the Trail Conference for all their help in protecting and preserving this and other critical parcels on the Shawangunk Ridge.”
Edward Goodell, Trail Conference executive director, says: “By protecting the steep forests that comprise this wildlife and recreational corridor, the Dept. of Environmental Conservation is demonstrating once again that it is possible to simultaneously promote local economic development, provide healthy recreation and protect the environment.”
Financial support for this project comes from the Environmental Protection Fund and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program in Collaboration with the Land Trust Alliance and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Directions to Minisink Trail:
From I-84 south/west, take Exit 2 to Mountain Road. Turn left on Mountain Road, cross underneath I-84, and turn right onto Rt. 6 (deli at the corner). Follow Rt. 6 for approximately 2 miles, passing over the ridge. The Minisink Trail is on the right, at the Greenville/Deerpark town line. There is a pull-out on the left, and enough room on the right to park off the road.
From Port Jervis, take Rt. 6 north/east. The trailhead is about 1.5 miles up the mountain, on the left side, at the Deerpark/Greenville town line, across from a pull-out on the right.
GPS Coordinates (can be entered in some car GPS devices): N 41.36659, W 74.65315 (click here for a Google Map).