Four years ago, on June 1, 2013, a celebration was held on the campus of the Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls, NY for the opening of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail from the U & D Railroad Station to the Laurel House site at the top of Kaaterskill Falls. It was a beautiful sunny day; the crowd was enthusiastic; the long awaited trail was finally ready. Well, the trail was almost ready. Hiking the trail for the past four years has meant taking a detour from the MTHS parking lot out to Osborn Road to North Lake Road and then south on Featherbed Lane to re-join the KRT about ¾ mile from the Railroad Station. It was not exactly what had been planned and worked for over so many years by so many community groups and individuals.
Now, on Saturday, May 20, 2017, there will be another community celebration beginning at 10:30 a.m. This time we will mark the end of the detour and the opening of the missing link with a few speeches, a ribbon cutting, and a beautiful, delicious cake. Walkers and hikers will be able to enter the KRT along the old train route just east of the MTHS' historic Railroad Station. It opens up a whole new world of hiking! At the Laurel House site, there is now a bridge that allows people to cross Lake Creek above Kaaterskill Falls and join the NYSDEC system of trails. One could hike all the way to Windham! "The Kaaterskill Rail Trail connects hikers, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts to the wonderful Catskills landscape" , said Kim Elliman, OSI's president and CEO. "OSI is proud to have preserved this significant and storied rail trail, and prouder yet to pass it along to local citizens for their permanent enjoyment."
This final link of the KRT has been made possible through a broad coalition of groups and individuals. Funding to purchase the property adjacent to the MTHS has been provided by generous grants from the Open Space Institute, NY/NJ Trail Conference, the Mountain Top Historical Society and the Hunter Foundation. All the background work to bring the property to the table for the purchase has been a long process involving the attorney for the Kursh Estate, Joe Gaffney; John Lyons and Kimberly Garrison of Grant & Lyons, LLC, attorneys for the MTHS; Michelle Yost of the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District; Sarah Killourhy and members of the town of Hunter Planning board; David Kukle of the Town of Hunter Board; and MTHS Board members. The work of preparing the trail for opening day is being headed up by Doug Senterman of the NY/NJ Trail Conference with the backing of Jeff Flack from GCSWD and many volunteers. Of course there are many unnamed others who have helped bring this four year promise to fruition. Please join us on Saturday, May 20 2017, at the U & D Railroad Station on the MTHS Haines Falls campus at 10:30 a.m. to cheer those people and organizations, named and unnamed, enjoy a piece of cake, and then take a hike on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail! Just head straight east from the Railroad Station into the woods.
On May18, 2017 Cyndi LaPierre, president of the Mountain Top Historical Society, signed the final papers closing the purchase of the property allowing the connection of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail to the Mountain Top Historical Society's Campus in Haines Falls and in effect driving the Golden Spike. It's been a long time coming. To our memory Don Conover, publisher of The Mountain Eagle, was an early advocate in the 1980s. We are happy to have taken part in establishing this section of what we hope will be an even longer trail connecting the communities or the Mountain Top. Join us on Saturday for the official opening and celebration, and come back again and again to enjoy this beautiful trail and its connection to the miles of trails in New York's Catskill Forest Preserve.