New trail links Phoenicia to the wilderness
By Jay Braman Jr.
Volunteers spent 1,500 hours over a two-year period to create a new, nine-mile-long hiking trail that starts right in Phoenicia and goes up into the Slide Mountain Wilderness.
On Saturday, June 7 the public can see the results of those efforts.
At 11 a.m. the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference will celebrate the culmination of that hard work with the opening the newest section of the Long Path in the Catskills on National Trails Day.
“This new 9.5 mile trail section connects the Village of Phoenicia with the Burroughs Range Trail in the Slide Mountain Wilderness,” said Trail Conference Spokesman Jeff Senterman. “Over a hundred volunteers have spent thousands of hours building this trail, which travels over three mountain peaks (Romer, Cross and Pleasant mountains), past scenic vistas and features some amazing examples of trail building work.”
Following a ribbon cutting ceremony, there will be a guided hike along the new trail as it climbs Romer Mountain above the Village of Phoenicia (approximately three miles that are moderately strenuous) in order to view a portion of the new trail and work that was completed during the project.
Senterman asks anyone coming to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, June 6 to ensure an accurate headcount for the event.
Parking at the Lane Street Trailhead is limited and if enough people RSVP, a shuttle will bring attendees from the parking areas adjacent to the bridge over the Esopus River on Woodland Valley Road to the trail opening.
Trail work began in 2012, and volunteers have already spent over 1,500 hours building the section of trail that goes between Phoenicia and Romer Mountain. This year, work continues from Romer Mountain southward over Mount Pleasant and Cross Mountains and from the north near Wittenberg Mountain.
Trail crews tackled the construction through a series of daylong and weeklong trips. In addition, specialized volunteer crews from the Trail Conference have spent time on the mountains, doing rockwork and specialized tread building.
This new section of the Long Path represents the longest section of new trail in the Catskill Park since the construction of the Warner Creek Trail by the Trail Conference over a decade ago.
The Long Path is a 347.4-mile-long-distance hiking trail beginning at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, NJ and ending at Altamont, in the Albany area. While not yet a continuous trail, relying on road walks in some areas, it nevertheless takes in many of the popular hiking attractions west of the Hudson River, such as the New Jersey Palisades, Harriman State Park, the Shawangunk Ridge and the Catskill Mountains. It offers hikers a diversity of environments to pass through, from suburbia and sea level salt marshes along the Hudson to wilderness and boreal forest on Catskill summits 4,000 feet in elevation.
When conceived in the 1930s, it was to be the antithesis of a hiking trail, with neither a designated route nor blazes, simply a list of points of interest hikers could find their own routes to.
However, increasing development after World War II in Orange and Rockland counties made that less workable, and it was revived in the 1960s as a standard trail. Plans call for it to be extended through the Adirondacks to the Canadian border.