Putnam and Dutchess County citizen groups and governmental agencies continue to work together to develop the Hudson Fjord Hike/Bike Trail – a separated multi-use 9-mile trail linking Constitution Island in Cold Spring to the City of Beacon Train Station. The riverfront towns of Philipstown and Fishkill, the City of Beacon and the Village of Cold Spring, Dutchess and Putnam counties, Scenic Hudson, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, The Open Space Institute and elected officials are working collaboratively with NYS Department of Transportation, NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Metro-North Railroad. The project has also been featured in both the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Plan and the Mid-Hudson Sustainability Plan.
First reported on in the July 2008 issue of NYNJ Trail Conference Trailwalker, the goal of the project is to transform a portion of State Route 9D in the heart of the Hudson Highlands from a high speed thoroughfare into a multi-use, user-friendly recreational, tourism-oriented parkway that provides people with a stronger visual and physical connection with the Hudson River. This section of Route 9D links two of the region’s most significant historic communities, the Village of Cold Spring and the City of Beacon, and connects a number of important public resources, including Hudson Highlands State Park, Little Stony Point, and Mt. Beacon, all of which offer outstanding views of the Hudson River, Storm King Mountain and Bannerman’s Castle.
The road is heavily used in all seasons by people seeking to access some of the most outstanding outdoor recreational opportunities in New York State. In fact, the area has been named by Newsweek magazine as among the top ten best hiking destinations in the nation and the Breakneck Ridge trail currently ranks as the number one day hike in an online poll conducted by Trails.com. Yet due to the road’s design, the public—particularly bicyclists and pedestrians—cannot safely access these places from which to enjoy river views. The corridor is used by vehicles traveling along the highway at or above the 55 mph speed limit as well as by large numbers of hikers parking and walking along the unimproved shoulder.
At the northern section of the corridor, lies Beacon, which is rapidly emerging as a Hudson River artist hotspot. Cold Spring, deep in the heart of the Highlands, has a variety of antique, outdoor recreation, specialty shops, and cafes that attract many visitors from the NYC area. There will be important economic benefits of improved access and use of the Trail to local communities. In addition, Cold Spring boasts a rich history in a scenic setting nestled between the mountains and river that draws history buffs from around the nation.
With both communities well-served by Metro North rail service, the centers of population will have a green connection between them, and visitors will use it to connect to the communities and to nature. The Trail will accommodate all: hikers, bikers, seniors, those with disabilities. The area is already a destination for international travelers, and the Trail will make their trip easier and safer.
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