Open Space Institute launches O&W Trail Corridor Study

Port Jervis. Community members can add their thoughts to the plan to establish a 57-mile trail from Kingston to Port Jervis.

| 22 Apr 2024 | 02:43

The Open Space Institute (OSI) recently launched its O&W Trail Corridor Study, which will help the organization in its effort to transform the former O&W Railroad corridor, including sections of the historic D&H Canal towpath, into a contiguous, 57-mile shared-use greenway trail from the city of Kingston in Ulster County southwest through Sullivan County to the city of Port Jervis in Orange County.

The study will provide OSI and partners with an inventory of existing trail conditions, and trail routing and access alternatives, informed by stakeholders and community members. The effort will also include trail engineering and construction analysis, cost estimating, and project prioritization.

In its announcement, OSI expressed the importance of community engagement and feedback in creating a “comprehensive vision” for the O&W Rail Trail and D&H Canal towpath. As part of the study, OSI has developed an online survey to evaluate local needs and identify emerging recreation, conservation, and economic development opportunities along the corridor.

Area residents, businesses, and communities along the trail are encouraged to participate in the public input process by completing the survey at the following link: OSI will also host open house events and conduct interviews with local organizations and community leaders. The open house events will take place on May 1 in Ellenville, May 6 in Mamakating, and May 14 in Port Jervis. To learn more about the project and open house events, visit

“From planning to community outreach and design, OSI is leading the effort to reimagine and repurpose the entire O&W rail trail, including the D&H Canal,” said Peter Karis, OSI’s vice president of Parks and Stewardship. “OSI has been planning, protecting, and improving trails in the area for more than a decade. We now have an opportunity to accomplish so much more, together. This is a true community effort and it’s going to take the collaboration of multiple towns, counties, and partners to clarify the vision and make it a reality.”

When reconnected and restored, the O&W Rail Trail will serve as a southwestward extension of the NYS Empire State Trail, connecting communities between the Hudson and Delaware rivers. The project was also outlined as a priority in the 2020 New York State Greenway Trails Plan.

The O&W Rail Trail Corridor Study is supported in part by a $500,000 grant from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation through Title 9 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1993.

OSI has hired regional consulting firm Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., to aid with the study, which is expected to be completed in 2025.