The Gardiner Trail Alliance (GTA) is taking the idea of reusing and repurposing to an entirely new level as its members blaze, groom and introduce a new set of trails at the Town landfill and its surrounding property. To help launch their new trail system, the not-for-profit group of avid hikers, runners, dog-walkers and cyclists are inviting the public to participate in the first annual 5K/10K Gardiner Dump Run on Sunday, September 25, for trail runners and walkers alike.
According to Mike Albright, who has worked for years to design and promote building a system of trails for public access at the 100-plus acres in and around the Gardiner landfill, the idea was first born when he read an article in the local Gardiner Gazette. “It was asking residents what they thought should be done with this Town-owned property, which goes from the dump cap to the river,” he said. An avid mountain biker, who was acutely aware of how few public trails there were for trail cyclists, suggested to a friend who was on the Town’s Recreation Committee that he pursue turning some of this land into a multi-use trail system. “He was busy working on a disc-golf course for the town, so I decided to join the Committee myself to help get this off the ground,” Albright explained.
After several presentations and designs and finding allies with the creation of the GTA, the idea was approved by the Town in September of 2021. “We’re in Phase One of the project right now, developing this 5K figure-eight loop path that can be used by cyclists, runners, walkers, birders, cross-country skiers or just people who want a place to enjoy views of the Shawangunk Mountains and the Wallkill River,” said Albright, who noted that the “best view of the Gunks is actually from the cap on top of the dump” (the sealed-off landfill).
Asked why he thought the property around the Transfer Station would be a good location, he said, “Because it’s easily accessible from the [Wallkill Valley] Rail Trail, and has access to the River and is on land that is actually beautiful.”
Albright pointed out that, since there are few opportunities for cyclists and Nordic skiers for free access to trails, having some right in the heart of Gardiner, off Steve’s Lane, would be a boon for the Town and its residents and visitors. To that end, the group has already had assistance from Hudson Valley Trailworks, who designed and built a quarter-mile flow trail for cyclists.
“A flow trail is a gravel trail on a small hill with banked turns where you can transfer your weight without pedaling, but maintain speed,” Albright explained. “It’s like a pump track downhill.” It can be characterized as a short-but-exhilarating rollercoaster ride for off-road cyclists. “It’s also nice because we can have certain trails that separate the cyclists from the runners and walkers, and have them each enjoy what they do without having to impact the other.”
Meanwhile the not-for-profit, all-volunteer GTA has been busy creating trails that highlight the river and the Gunks without disrupting the existing ecosystem to any great degree. “We don’t want this to be like Lippman Park [in Wawarsing], where there are a million trails and you can be on one and see the other. We want to do a few tasteful trails and let there be plenty of undisturbed area between them.”
To help make those in the Town and surrounding region aware of this new public resource for outdoor recreation, the GTA, along with the Gardiner Parks and Recreation Committee, have organized the Gardiner Dump Run, which will be a 5K figure-eight loop that can be run twice for those runners/walkers gunning for the 10K distance. “The Riverbend Trails are also designed to be suitable for mountain biking, but getting to know them on foot first is a great way to get your bearings for future cycling use,” said Albright.
Registration for the Dump Run will be open until September 22 at https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/Gardiner/GardinerDumpRun. The fee is $30 per participant. Parking for the event — which will go on rain or shine — will be available in the Riverbend Trails parking area, located behind the Transfer Station at 139 Steve’s Lane. All proceeds will go to the Town of Gardiner Recreation Fund.
Gardiner Trail Alliance organizers are also seeking sponsors for the Dump Run. Funds received from sponsorships will be used to purchase tee-shirts, finishing medals and complimentary drinks and snacks for participants. Questions about the race, the trails and sponsorship opportunities can be directed to Mike Albright at (845) 206-6998 or email@example.com, Gail Lahm at (201) 320-2633 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Trish Benevento at (551) 206-7963 or email@example.com.