Posts Tagged ‘handicapped accessible trail’

by David Hill, Ithaca Journal, click here for original post & VIDEOS of building the trail as well as the completed trail

NEW Emerald Necklace boardwalk in Dresden NY.

NEW Emerald Necklace boardwalk in Dresden NY.

They call it the Emerald Necklace, a belt of green connecting 50,000 acres of public and preserved land in an arc around Ithaca, from the Finger Lakes National Forest near Trumansburg in the west to near the Dryden village limits in the east.

And on Friday, the Finger Lakes Land Trust held a grand opening for the first link of the dreamed-of greenbelt. The Ithaca-based nonprofit bought 169 acres along Irish Settlement Road, between Hammond Hill State Forest to the north and its own Roy H. Park Preserve to the south, in November 2010. The site also abuts the Cornell Plantations’ Slaterville 600 natural area. Together, the lands comprise 7,500 acres of publicly accessible and preserved wooded and open space.

There are bigger parts, such as the Connecticut Hill State Wildlife Management area in Newfield. But the site celebrated Friday is the first link the Land Trust has built. It was able to act quickly when the property came on the market because of donations from an array of individuals, businesses and organizations, Executive Director Andrew Zepp said at an informal ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Take A Hike - Finger Lakes

Take A Hike – Finger Lakes

Also speaking: Ken Lynch, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, who said the land is an example of the kind of links the state is beginning to aim for; Tompkins County Legislature Chairwoman Martha Robertson, D-Dryden, whom Zepp thanked as an individual conservationist and in her role with the county, which provided grants through its open-space and tourism-promotion programs; and Mary Ann Sumner, supervisor of the Town of Dryden.

Robertson said such lands draw both tourists and permanent residents. “It’s so critical to everything about why we live here, why we choose this place,” Robertson said. “This is the legacy that you all have created today that generations from now will enjoy.”

This past winter, the Land Trust built a hiking trail linked to the 20-mile multi-use trail network in Hammond Hill.

The Land Trust also acquired land across Irish Settlement Road from the Park Preserve that it plans to deed to the state as an expansion of Yellow Barn State Forest, Zepp said, and it may one day be possible to hike across all of them into a preserve along Ellis Hollow Creek Road.

Linking preserves on the whole arc may prove a challenge, as valley development blocks the most direct connections, but the Land Trust will persevere, Zepp said. “That’s the scope of this project,” he said. “We’re in it for the long haul. This is just one of the links in the Emerald Necklace.”

Zepp also announced memorials at the site. The trail and boardwalk will be named “Howard’s Walk” after Howard Hartnett, an active conservationist who recently died. An educational kiosk at the entrance will be named in honor of Ed Thompson, an Ithaca native whose siblings James, Bill, Mark and Ellen Fowler contributed in his honor. The overlook will be named in honor of Matthew Ruppert, whose family has supported the Land Trust.

To hike other local trails, pick up a copy of the guidebook “Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.”

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by Ralph Ferrusi , Poughkeepsie Journal, link to original post WITH PHOTOS

Hike name: Bear Mountain accessible Appalachian Trail (AT)
Location: Right on top of Bear Mountain, at the north end of the Perkins Memorial Drive summit loop around the tower.
Length: 2,465 feet
Rating: Inspired. Inspiring.
Accessible: Designed and built to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
Dogs: Please be extra careful to clean up after.
Maps: www.nynjtc.org/map/bear-mountain-day-hikes-map.
Features: This new section, built by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC), extends from the parking area near the Perkins Tower to a sweeping viewpoint north over the Hudson Valley, the first such viewpoint from the AT on Bear Mountain.
Background: My cousin Michael was involved in a serious automobile accident several years ago and is partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. At some point after the accident he said to me, “Ralphie, I’d like to go on the Appalachian Trail with you sometime.”

Saturday, June 4, 2011, we did it, along with his mom, Sandy, and his son Michael — three generations — and my wife, Kathy — a Super Day on the very top of Bear Mountain, New York, USA!

The first ADA-standards accessible AT was a 2,000-vintage 1.1-mile loop trail, part of it the AT, along the Housatonic River near Falls Village, Conn., (Hike of the Week May 11, 2006). I returned to this section for the June 10 column two months ago, and it had become a bit “long in the tooth” — parts of it were gullied, others blocked by blowdowns. Hopefully it’s been brought back to its original high standards.

Three other sections of the AT are accessible, and a fourth is in-progress:

Opened in 2002, Pochuck Creek, Vernon Township, N.J., is the AT’s largest accessible trail-reconstruction project to date, involving 6,000 feet of elevated boardwalk over the largest wetland area along the entire AT, and featuring a 144-foot suspension bridge over Pochuck Creek.

Opened in 2006, Osborn Farm, Shady Valley, Tenn., the 0.7-mile trail is situated at approximately 3,500 feet in an open meadow, terminating at the height of land, with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, including Virginia’s highest, 5,729-foot Mount Rogers.

Opened in 2007, Thundering Falls, in the Green Mountain National Forest, near Killington, Vt., includes 700 feet of elevated boardwalk and approximately 500 feet of gravel-surfaced tread leading to 100-foot Thundering Falls,Vermont’s sixth largest.

A quarter-mile trail near Pearisburg, Va., is a work in progress.

Hike Description: On National Trails Day, June 4, 200 people gathered on the summit of Bear Mountain to celebrate the opening of a brand-new 1.3-mile section of AT, that included a 0.4-mile section of handicapped accessible trail.

I began my hike on the east end of the Bear Mountain Bridge, my “traditional” kicking-off point for an AT hike to Perkins. It’s always a treat to walk across the bridge and enjoy the north/south views along the Hudson. The Zoo was closed at this early hour, and I walked, for the first time ever, the blue-blazed trail that swings around it to the west, then again enjoyed the extraordinary 800 steps “trail of the future” up the east face of Bear Mountain.

As I stepped onto the paved road at the north end of the Perkins summit loop, Sandy, Mike, and Mike were just pulling up in their wheelchair-lift van — remarkable timing!

Kath arrived soon afterward, and after the ceremonies, the wheelchairs and handicapped were the first on the new trail, through a garden-like setting of mountain laurel, past big boulders. Everyone was smiling, ear to ear, the whole day. The viewpoint was the frosting on the cake. A hearty congratulations to the trail conferences, volunteers, designer Pete Jenkens, master trail builder Eddie Walsh and all involved.

How to get there: Route 9D south, cross the Bear Mountain Bridge to 9W/202 south, right on Seven Lakes Drive, right on (up) Perkins.

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