Thanksgiving opening of western end of Ashokan rail-trail announced as work on trailheads continues

It’s been a long time coming, but it was worth waiting for. Now it’s close enough to reality that it can be publicized. Some day soon it’ll be completed.

The western section of the Ashokan Reservoir rail-trail, northern Ulster County’s latest public recreation attraction, will formally open on Thanksgiving Day, according to a county government press release. It has been closed due to construction activities.

The trailheads on Route 28 in Shokan and on Route 28A in Boiceville are on their way to completion. New parking areas will add more than a hundred additional spaces to those previously available at the trailhead opposite the West Hurley post office on Route 28. Sanitary facilities will also be available at the three trailheads.

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Nine miles of trail were officially opened on October 18, with another two miles opened several weeks later. In the first four weeks since the opening, according to Ulster County officials, more than 11,000 visitors have used the scenic trail. This western segment includes a spectacular new 360-foot trestle bridge.

As of the Monday of Thanksgiving week, the public parking lot at the Boiceville trailhead remained woefully incomplete. There was no surfacing, no sign of the lot’s availability for general parking, and no delineation of parking spaces. A few very large rocks had been imported, however.

“Opening an additional two trailheads in Shokan and Boiceville gives easier access to the amazing features on the middle and western portions of the trail,” Ulster County legislator Kathy Nolan said. “These features include the new multi-purpose Boiceville trestle spanning the Esopus Creek and leading to stunningly beautiful wetlands areas, woods and causeways.” The western  trailhead is within walking distance of the Boiceville hamlet.

“DEP has heard great feedback from many of our watershed neighbors and tourists who have enjoyed the eastern sections of the trail during the past month,” DEP deputy commissioner Paul Rush said. “We know they will be equally thrilled by the experience and vistas near Shokan and Boiceville.”

Located within less than a half-mile of the new Boiceville bridge, the rail-trail runs close to the north shore of the reservoir, offering scenic views of the Catskill Mountain peaks to the southwest of the reservoir. The entire eleven-mile-plus length of the rail-trail through DEP reservoir property along the bed of the former Ulster & Delaware Railroad from West Hurley to Boiceville is now open to the public for non-motorized recreation from sunrise to sunset throughout the year.

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