Ashokan rail trail opens just in time for peak fall foliage

(Photos by Dion Ogust)

Estimates are that upwards of 600 people utilized the Ashokan rail-trail on October 19, a day after Ulster County executive Pat Ryan and a crowd of other local dignitaries participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 11.5-mile recreational trail extending from Basin Road in West Hurley to Route 28A in Boiceville. The $16.5-million project in the former Ulster and Delaware Railroad corridor opens the county-owned right-of-way to the public without access permits for the first time since the reservoir was constructed over a century ago.

“Through a unique partnership between New York City and Ulster County, we have successfully built one of the most beautiful and enviro-friendly rail-trails in the world,” New York City DEP commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “The Ashokan rail-trail provides our watershed neighbors and visitors with easy access to the great outdoors, and an up-close setting to learn about the reservoir system that provides wholesome drinking water to 9.6 million New Yorkers. The trail also extends the DEP’s commitment to expand recreation and improve public access to its water supply lands. The Ashokan rail-trail is the 16th recreation path developed on city-owned property in the watershed by collaborating with local governments and nonprofits. These trails – including our latest effort with Ulster County – advance our common goals of supporting tourism, improving public health, and promoting a steadfast appreciation for our region’s scenic beauty and natural resources. We look forward to working with county executive Pat Ryan and our Catskills neighbors on these efforts in the future.”

Ashokan Reservoir was the first of six reservoirs built by New York City in the Catskills. It was constructed between 1908 and 1915. It began providing drinking water to all five boroughs of New York City in 1917. About 40 percent of New York City’s drinking water comes from Ashokan Reservoir on a typical day. That water is conveyed to the city through the 92-mile Catskill Aqueduct. The aqueduct also provides water to more than a dozen communities in the Hudson Valley, including High Falls and New Paltz in Ulster County. New York City’s reservoirs, dams and aqueducts comprise the largest municipal water-supply system in the United States.


The Ashokan rail-trail is ten to twelve feet wide, with a compacted crushed stone surface that is ADA compliant and is fully accessible to persons with disabilities. It is open for non-motorized uses, including hiking, bicycling, running, nature observation, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing and will offer three public trailheads from which the trail can be accessed.

A map showing trail access points

There are 5 comments

  1. margaret

    Wow!, I waited to walk the new trail. I will not go again. So many young people on bikes who kept weaving in and out of the people walking along the trail without even warning they were coming. The speed at which they weaved in and out of us could easily have hurt one who moved one way or another.

    There were many people with dogs. That would have been okay, but there were many who did not carry bags and pick up after their dogs. POOP everywhere.

    I will travel the road less traveled and ……………………

  2. Patzilla

    If Ulster County doesn’t stop logging and clearing away so many trees, there soon will be no peak fall foliage views. We should have had the train instead with dinner train rides and a link from Kingston to western Ulster, but now the taxpayers will have to pay to maintain this trail.

  3. Birgitte Bentivenga

    We just walked out to see the first view of the reservoir but we got very turned off by bikes they are fast and seems to own the road

Comments are closed.