The Open Space Institute and New York State Parks Restore High Point Carriage Road | Outdoors | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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The Open Space Institute and New York State Parks Restore High Point Carriage Road

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Last Updated: 05/12/2022 11:09 am
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High Point carriage road pre-restoration. - COURTESY OF THE OPEN SPACE INSTITUTE
  • Courtesy of the Open Space Institute
  • High Point carriage road pre-restoration.

The network of carriage roads that lace Minnewaska State Park Preserve were built in the late 1800s for scenic rides in horse-drawn sleighs and carriages. They’re wide, flat, and designed to offer plenty of panoramic vistas. In other words, they’re ideal for some 21st-century hiking or biking. Beginning in 2014, the Open Space Institute and New York State Parks teamed up to begin restoration work, reversing the damage and degradation caused by time and use over more than 100 years. To date, 11 of Minnewaska’s carriage roads have been restored and reopened. The next in line: High Point.


This isn’t just any carriage road, but a major connector in the patchwork of local parks and preserves. Once the restoration of the 2.4 mile High Point Carriage Road is completed, visitors will be able to travel between the Lake Minnewaska and Sam’s Point visitor centers without leaving the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Local contractor Mombaccus Excavating started work on High Point at the beginning of March.





Precautions are being taken to not disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the Shawangunk Ridge. “We had to have all the trees we wanted out cut down by the end of March,” says Peter Karis, OSI’s Vice President of parks and stewardship. “There are two species of endangered bats living in Minnewaska that roost in the trees from April 1 to October 31.”


In a series of improvements costing $1.2 million, OSI will smooth out the rocky and uneven surface of the carriage road, improve the flow of storm water, and widen the path to accompany plenty of visitors. Changes will also include a 1,200 foot reroute around a very steep area.


“Originally, it was just a straight line that dropped down,” says Karis. “Whereas with the reroute, you get a curved slope with a view of the Catskills.”


While Karis expects all of the work on the trail to be completed by the end of 2022, the carriage road’s reopening will take a few months more so the crew can keep an eye on how the landscape is affected by the changing seasons.


“We’ve had problems in the past with rainfall or melting snow completely blowing out parts of the trail when we thought we were ready to open,” says Karis. “We need to wait a couple months to make sure we open once and without any problems.”


High Point Carriage Road will open in summer of 2023, and Minnewaska lovers will have a new spot to take in the sights and get in their steps.


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