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Something Awesome Just Happened for the Schunnemunk & Heritage Rail Trails At Our Future County Park

Entrance to the Park with New Parking Lot & Sign

Distance from the new Heritage Trail sign at entrance and left turn to the parking area and picnic tables (clearly marked at T-intersection).

Sometimes, like a Winter Stew on a cold night, the best things take some time, and in this case every step forward is like a new decoration on a Holiday Tree, especially since integration of our local scenic places and views has been a project that Steve Neuhaus and our local officials have worked toward for at least 20 years. While Orange County Legislature has been taking some big steps to develop the New County Park on the border of Chester and Blooming Grove, (big and beautiful like Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery), they haven't yet officially named it. But the next best thing (especially for Blooming Grove and Washingtonville), is that they have just made an official Parking Lot. This will not only make access for hikers on the Heritage Trail much easier and likely to bring hundreds if not thousands more visitors a year, as it develops it will do the same for those who want to walk and hike the Schunnemunk Trail, whether from the western communities or the very juncture it has with the Heritage Trail already, where it will travel through the Blooming Grove portion of the County Park, through beautiful communities toward the Northeast and up and along the Schunnemunk Ridge, with its spectacular views, including those of Blooming Grove, Washingtonville, Salisbury Mills, New Windsor, Cornwall and Woodbury, eventually joining with the Long Path and Highland Trail and iconic Appalachian Trail. And yes, there is a group working toward a City by the Hudson River, Newburgh link as well.

Not only does the current LaGuardia property now have a new Parking Lot, it is just a few hundred feet to the left from the entrance on Greycourt Road and advertised with 3 signs plus a sign clearly designating the Trail Rules. We wait with baited breath for a 4th noticeable sign with an arrow to the Northwest saying Schunnemunk Rail Trail NW....but more work needs to be done to get the SRT ready first.

Picnic tales adjacent to parking area.

Rules are important for the trails to be a success!

Abandoned building next to parking....future use as yet unknown

With some more hard work, I'd place a bet any day, that the new Parking Lot will be expanding by this time next year as visitor traffic grow. It even has 2 picnic tables so hikers and bicycle riders can stop for a rest and snack (and when needed, a Porta Potty). An abandoned building to the left looks solid and could be any number of uses if renovated. Not only are these two trails growing, but there are some amazing stops along the way, including Stone House Farm, Dominion House Bed & Breakfast, the SRT section of trail through Blooming Grove with its stunning views of Schunnemunk and the Moodna Creek, the Village of Washingtonville (who's Events Calendar has been going 'off the charts' these past 2 years, including several top placements in Best of Hudson Valley). After stopping for a bite and maybe a little shopping in the "Ville", the SRT continues behind Mays Field, through the woods and farmland along the Moodna and to the famous Moodna Trestle in Salisbury Mills and then up the Ridge. The stretch behind Mays Field is blissfully quiet and a perfect jaunt at dusk, by yourserlf or with a friend or dog. It's not a through trail there yet, and ends a little more than a half mile along the Creek where one of the historic iron bridges is undergoing repair, but it already feels like part of a trail system and leaves one nodding their head "Yup, this is why I live here."

There are still many steps to go.... but the County installed two Schunnemunk Rail Trail signs in Washingtonville and it feels like our trail celebration tree is coming along and has just gotten two beautiful new ornaments. A Parking Lot and Signs just seems to make it real. Hmmm, maybe with this progress it should have its own column in the Courier Journal.

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