Hubbard Perkins Loop built for multiple uses
Fahnestock State Park in Philipstown got another big upgrade this week with the opening of the 9.5-mile multi-use Hubbard Perkins Loop Trail in the park’s northwest section.
The project significantly reworks and reroutes parts of several existing trails to avoid sensitive wetland areas as well as makes the trails more suitable for running, horseback riding, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The $1.5 million project was planned and paid for by the Open Space Institute, through a mixture of private and public funds.
“You get up there now and it’s just ridge after ridge,” said Peter Karis, the vice president of parks and stewardship at OSI. “The slopes are gentler, the curves are sweeping; we bring you close to the rocks and the boulders and there’s multiple stream crossings.”
Karis calls the project the “crescendo” of OSI’s recent collaborations with the New York State Parks Department and the Taconic Regional Commision, including last year’s installation of two new parking lots and reworked trails. West Point cadets also collaborated, building bridges on the trail for their capstone structural and civil engineering projects.
“These are the cadets that are going to go into the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Karis. “They actually get to build something that they’ve designed. It’s real-world experience. This is the fifth year in a row we’ve done this and it’s been their number one choice for capstone projects. Every cadet wants to build a bridge.”
The bridges themselves also do double-duty as symbols on the new blazes that mark the Hubbard Perkins Loop Trail, since it overlays several existing trails.
While the trail follows the same general shape as the existing trails, the new rerouting pulls the trails out of shallow wetland areas, which will not only protect fragile wildlife habitats but also protect the new trails from erosion. Karis said that pulling the trails out of the lower saddles and up onto the ridges not only protects wildlife and the trails themselves, but will give those using the trails new views and access into areas of the park that weren’t previously accessible.
“It’s got beautiful places to visit that the other trail did not go by before,” he said. “It’s a spectacular, interior big-forest type of experience, which is what Fahnestock is all about.”