The votes are in! The Hudson Valley Trail Network, spanning 18 miles from Highland to Hopewell Junction, is the newest inductee into Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC) Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.
RTC, which aims to connect communities through a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Along with this milestone came another milestone: For the first time in its history, RTC left the selection process up to the public, who overwhelmingly deemed the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, Walkway Over the Hudson, and William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail worthy of the national praise.
The Hudson Valley Trail Network—New York State’s second Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee after Manhattan’s acclaimed High Line—received nearly 54 percent of the 19,885 total votes, far outshining the other nominees in Oregon, South Carolina, Colorado, and Tennessee.
According to Amy Kapp, editor-in-chief of Rails to Trails magazine, these repurposed pathways bring communities together, an effort that essentially builds healthier neighborhoods and redefines their livability. “Rail-Trails across America have had a powerful impact on communities in terms of health, transportation, economic development, the environment, and cultural identity.”
These, along with other merits such as scenic value, high use, trail amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance, community connections, and geographic distribution led RTC to nominate the nexus of local tracks.
To acknowledge the Hudson Valley’s achievement, new Hall of Fame signage will welcome walkers and bikers from near and far to the routes that showcase the beauty of where we live. “The more we can celebrate these local and regional treasures, the more we can draw attention to their importance,” Kapp says.