Minnewaska Carriage Road Project Begins

A contract to restore the Millbrook Carriage Road in Minnewaska State Park Preserve (Shawangunk Ridge) is scheduled to begin this week. The project is expected to take 90 days to complete, though that time frame is largely weather dependent. The Millbrook Carriage Road and Gertrude’s Nose footpath will be closed for the duration of this project. Millbrook Mountain will be accessible via Millbrook Footpath for hikers only. Additionally, numerous pieces of heavy equipment will be utilizing Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road from the main parking areas to the entrance to Millbrook as this is the only access route for Millbrook Carriage Road. Patrons should be aware of construction vehicles on Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road and should yield to construction vehicles in an effort to speed project completion. Multiple signs will be placed in appropriate locations to notify patrons regarding the project, trail closures, and trail detours

Restoration and maintenance of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve carriage roads is an important undertaking that will ensure the preservation of historic pieces of this country’s heritage for future generations. The Preserve offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the peaceful and natural environment that still remains undisturbed by modern technology. The carriage roads offer guests easy access to the majestic scenery surrounding the lakes, steep ravines, and scenic lookouts. The intention of the carriage roads was and still is to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional, while providing a safe and comfortable journey to previously inaccessible and rugged terrain. The resulting network of carriage roads continues to provide people with the same participatory experience in nature envisioned by the Smiley brothers more than a century ago. Preservation and restoration of this historical system of carriage roads is much easier if the process begins before nature has erased all identifiable attributes.

While some of the 35 miles of carriage roads at Minnewaska receive dedicated funding and are maintained to the highest standards for heavy use, many of them are in a serious state of decline and face restrictions of access and eventual closure unless incremental improvements are completed.The damage from floods, ice storms, and foot, horse, and bicycle traffic has led to the point where deferral is no longer an option, and reduced services are becoming more commonplace every year.

The Palisades Parks Conservancy has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Fund administered through The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the Mohonk Preserve, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have launched an urgent joint initiative to rebuild the historic Smiley family carriage road network in New York State’s Shawangunk Mountains. Many of the 83 miles of hand-built broken stone are in stages of disrepair, some causing closure. This grant will continue to fund an existing network-wide planning and restoration campaign, as well as address the immediate needs of one significant stretch of carriage road, the Millbrook Mountain Carriage road.

Help is needed to support the Palisades Parks Conservancy reaching their goal of restoring the entire historic carriage road network at Minnewaska State Park Preserve for the enjoyment of future generations and protection of natural resources. They need over four million dollars to restore the 35 mile carriage road network at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

Photo: Historic Carriage Road at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

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