Region’s parks and trails still open

By Mike Zummo
Posted 3/25/20

By last Friday it seems as though everything was closed as the Coronavirus crisis continued to escalate.

Schools were already shut down for the time being, but an announcement from Gov. Andrew …

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Region’s parks and trails still open

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By last Friday it seems as though everything was closed as the Coronavirus crisis continued to escalate.

Schools were already shut down for the time being, but an announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned all unnecessary travel throughout the state in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 infections.

Several days earlier, he issued an order that closed local gyms, leaving many people without a place to exercise.

However, there is an option for at least passive recreation as people can still jog in their local neighborhoods, and most outdoor parks are still open.

In Maybrook, all village parks have remained open, but all village recreation events have been canceled.

Parks and playgrounds remain open in the town of Montgomery.

However, there have been some closures, especially in Crawford and Shawangunk.

Shawangunk Supervisor John Valk announced on Wednesday that town parks were closed to large events, sporting events and anything that would involve a large group of people.

He also said the town is discouraging the use of any playgrounds.

“We can’t close it off, but we will tape that off and put a sign up that it’s not to be used,” Valk said.

The town parks in Crawford are closed, but the town has an avenue for walking as it opened its walking trail on Thursday morning.

The trail stretches from two parking lots. One is on County Route 17 and the other is on Ward Avenue in Pine Bush. The trail has a large loop to return walkers to where they park.

Dogs are welcome.

According to a Tuesday, March 17 memo from Orange County Parks Commissioner James S. Brooks, county parks are open, which includes area parks such as Thomas Bull Memorial Park and, Algonquin Park and Plum Point.

Birthday parties or events can still be planned at Thomas Bull if there are no more than 50 attendees. All reservations are to be made online.

The county is planning to open the Stony Ford and Hickory Hill Golf Courses on Thursday, March 26.

Tennis courts are scheduled to open on May 1 and the dog parks at Thomas Bull and Algonquin Park also are open. The county Arboretum is open as well.

Events can also be planned at Stony Ford Golf Course or Hickory Hill if the event is less than 50 people.

State parks remain open as well, especially for passive recreation, such as hiking. All entry fees have been waived for the time being.

However, while all outdoor areas are open to the public, all indoor spaces and restrooms at State Department of Environmental Conservation are closed to prevent community spread of COVID-19.

However, anyone who visits the parks are asked to try to keep six feet of distance between themselves and others; avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging and kissing, wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available and avoid surfaces that are touched often such as doorknobs hand rails and playground equipment.

Many trails are also open throughout the county.

“The Appalachian Trail was founded here in 1923, and it continues to provide family fun, scenic views, and outdoor exploration for all who visit,” said Orange County Tourism Director Amanda Dana. “As many of us look for ways to stay healthy and get outside, we are fortunate to have bountiful state, county, and community parks right in our own backyards.”

Some unique trails in Orange County include:

Schunnemunk Mountain State Park, 339 Otterkill Road, New Windsor: Explore 25 miles of hiking trails along 3,300 acres of rolling meadows and spectacular mountaintops including Schunnemunk Mountain, Orange County’s highest peak. Eight marked trails offer hikers thrilling 360-degree views of adjacent valleys, portions of the distant Hudson River and surrounding forest and farmlands. For more information, visit palisadesparksconservancy.org.

Sterling Forest State Park, 115 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo: Composed of 20,000 acres of nearly pristine natural refuge, Sterling Forest is among the largest contiguous forests in New York State. The park offers varying trail lengths, including 10, 8, 7, 4, and 3 miles. See historic ruins of the iron mining industry that once flourished here. For more information, visit palisadesparksconservancy.org.

Storm King State Park, Route 9W, South of Cornwall: This undeveloped park made headlines in the 1960s and 1970s when Storm King Mountain inspired the ecological movement in the United States. Climb the steep, rocky trails for breathtaking views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley. For more information, visit palisadesparksconservancy.org.

Winding Hills Park, 1847 Route 17K, Montgomery: Commune with nature at the picturesque Winding Hills Park which offers hiking trails, a 40-acre lake, and four-acre pond. For more information, visit orangecountygov.com/1491/Winding-Hills-Park.

Heritage Trail, Goshen, Chester & Monroe: A converted rail bed of the Erie Railroad, the Heritage trail invites visitors to walk, jog, and bike along its 10-foot wide, 14-mile scenic route. With trail entrances in Goshen, Chester, and Monroe, the trail winds through a bird/wildlife sanctuary, historic landmarks, murmuring streams, and rolling meadows. For more information, visit orangecountygov.com/1475/Heritage-Trail.

Kowawese Unique Area at Plum Point, Route 9W, New Windsor: Located on the banks of the Hudson River, this site boasts magnificent vistas of the Hudson gorge and a 2,000-foot sandy riverfront. For more information, visit orangecountygov.com/1478/Kowawese-Unique-Area-at-Plum-Point.

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