Trail traversing former Williams Lake Property made permanent part of Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

The Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT), the Open Space Institute (OSI) and The Fifth Lake Resort Community has announced a formal agreement guaranteeing public trail access through Fifth Lake, formally known as Williams Lake. 

As part of the agreement, WVLT holds a permanent trail easement for just under 1.5 miles of former rail bed that runs through the Fifth Lake property. The easement provides a permanent connection supporting the 22-mile-long Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, linking the northern section of the trail to the City of Kingston. 

 In 2009, the WVLT and OSI acquired 11.5 miles of the former Wallkill Valley railroad in the towns of Rosendale and Ulster. The acquisition included the 150-foot high historic railroad trestle that spans the Rondout Creek in Rosendale. In partnership, OSI and WVLT collaborated efforts to transform the span into a recreational walkway and in 2013 the Rosendale Trestle opened to the public. 


Soon after the Rosendale Trestle’s opening, Fifth Lake, which is located just north of the trestle, opened its 1.42-mile section of rail trail under a temporary easement, facilitating a critical connection to the northern section of the trail and the City of Kingston beyond.

“This agreement is wonderful news for people in this community who grew up knowing the beauty of the former Williams Lake,” said OSI’s president and CEO Kim Elliman. “A trail is only as good as its connections and by guaranteeing access through the Fifth Lake property, we are taking another step in ensuring that the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail continues to be a recreational destination and economic driver in the heart of Ulster County.”

“The section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail that runs through the Fifth Lake Resort Community is visually stunning and includes some of amazing experiences along the rail trail: cold air drifting from mine entrances and views of significant historical structures,” said Christie DeBoer, executive director of the WVLT. “This section also avoids any road crossings (between Breezy Hill Road and Hickory Bush Road).”

The section of the Rail Trail now permanently protected by the trail easement includes towering and historic kiln walls, which harken back to Rosendale’s natural cement making heritage. “The permanent trail easement is a great example of how landowners can partner with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust to protect and preserve open space, rail trails and farms,” said Beth Bengtson, President of the WVLT. “The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a significant recreational, environmental and historic asset to the community, and portions of the Rail Trail will soon be part of a larger vision — The Empire State Trail.”

Brian Cafferty, the community outreach director for the Williams Lake Project said, “Fifth Lake is gratified to dedicate its 1.42 mile segment of the trail, which will create a permanent and seamless trail connection between southern Ulster, the City of Kingston and the broader Empire State Trail connections to the City of Poughkeepsie and Walkway Over the Hudson.  Granting this easement demonstrates our commitment and desire for Fifth Lake to connect deeply with the Hudson Valley community.”