If you drive around the Pepacton Reservoir in Delaware County, you quickly notice that there aren't many places to hike or stroll. That means that the grand vista of miles of New York City's drinking water is often hidden from view. (Or only glimpsed through the window of a passing car.)
Left: The brand-new sign for the brand-new Shavertown Trail. Photo via Ann Roberti.
This Friday, that's going to change with the opening of the new Shavertown Trail in the Catskills town of Andes. The brainchild of a determined Andes resident and Catskill Mountain Club board member named Ann Roberti, the Shavertown trail is a 5.3-mile jaunt that begins near the water and then climbs a ridge to sweeping views of the water. The whole trail is on NYC Department of Environmental Protection land.
This is a step forward for the DEP, which historically had forbidden most public access to its large landholdings around the reservoirs. In recent years, the DEP has opened many of its lands and waters. But working with local groups -- in this case, the Catskill Mountain Club, the town of Andes, Andes Works, and the New York New Jersey Trail Conference --- to plan a trail on DEP land is a big new step.
Thanks to Roberti, the Shavertown trail isn't the only new hiking trail in Andes. Last year, she helped create the Andes Rail Trail, a 2-mile hike on an old railroad right-of-way that begins just outside of town. This year, Roberti led the community in landscaping the entrance to the rail trail and in expanding it another two miles with the Bullet Hole Spur.
Above: Volunteers landscaping the entrance to the Andes Rail Trail. Photo via Ann Roberti.
We asked Roberti to tell us more about the improvements to the rail trail. Here's what she sent us:
Rail trail entryway
The Common Ground Garden Club a local club for garden enthusiasts with a commitment to supporting the community, took on landscaping the entryway to the Andes Rail Trail as this year’s community project. Mel Bellar, of the CGCC and owner of Zone4 Landscapes, designed a beautiful pergola, bench and gate for the entryway, as well as native plantings for around the structure and the start of the trail. Members of the garden club, along with volunteers and donations from members of Andes Works!, the Catskill Mountain Club and several Andes citizens, made Mel’s design a reality. They also created beautiful planting beds by the pergola and gate, as well as around the kiosk that was created last year with a grant from Parks & Trails NY to provide a trail map and railroad history.
[The weekend of August 2 to 4], club members planted native shrubs and perennials that will make the entryway beautiful and inviting for years to come. Commenting on the project, Mel Bellar said: “It is a very exciting project and it is going to be beautiful. It is so thrilling to see how many people are already using the trail and to see the whole project taking shape.”
The citizens of Andes and the many other trail users are so grateful to the Common Ground Garden Club and the other contributors to this terrific project.
Bullet Hole Spur hiking trail
The Andes Rail Trail is now complete with the opening of the Bullet Hole Spur addition to the hiking trail. This extension to the rail trail adds an additional 2 miles, bringing the option of the total walk to 3.9 miles round trip. The Spur climbs Hemlock Knoll, the ridge above the rail bed, taking hikers through mature hardwood forest, open woodlands covered in ferns and princess pine, magnificent rock outcroppings, an old pine plantation and hemlocks towering above the Bullet Hole Creek. It is really a beautiful trail, giving the hiker a bit of many different Catskills environments. The Spur is more strenuous than the flat railbed, climbing 250 feet in a half mile, but switchbacks and stone steps help out. The steep sections are followed by relatively flat areas so you get a nice break after working a little harder. The trail has been getting a lot of use by Andes residents and visitors who have been delighted with all that this relatively short trail has to offer.
People ask when the trail will be extended to the Pepacton, and the answer is “it won’t be”. The old railbed now passes through active dairy and beef cattle farms as well as through other properties that are not conducive to a public footpath. While it would be lovely to have a longer trail, it is just not feasible for the old Delaware and Northern railbed which was decommissioned 88 years ago and has been used for other things since then.
Hiking in Andes
Celebrate the grand opening of the Shavertown Trail this Friday, August 30, at noon, at the Shavertown Bridge Boat Launch, just off Route 30 on the north side of Shavertown Bridge in Andes. From Route 28 in Andes turn south onto County Route 1 and go 8 miles to parking just before the Shavertown Bridge at Route 30. From Route 28 in Margaretville go west 3 miles to Route 30. Turn southwest and go 8 miles to parking just past the bridge on County Route 1. Two-mile hike to follow.If you can't make Friday, the Catskill Mountain Club is leading a guided hike of the new trail on October 8, 2013.
To hike the Andes Rail Trail, head to 266 Depot St., Andes.
For more info on great Catskills hikes, see our the Hiking Guide.
Below: The Andes Rail Trail. Photo via Ann Roberti.