Scenes abound on the Ashokan Railroad

Photo: 520-foot-long pedestrian trail with bicycles and trailers on a sloping wet floor on the Ashokan Railroad.

(Editor’s Note – This article is the fifth in a series of trails in the Middle Hudson Valley area.)

The first installment of this series is the Hudson Valley Railroad and pedestrian crossing on Hudson. The bike is also a great way to explore the newly built Ashoka Railroad.

New York City was booming in the 1800s, and demand for clean and safe water sources increased to support homes and industries. After searching for and studying a suitable site for a new reservoir, a site was discovered in the Hudson Valley, north of Poképsi and Catsilles.

Here, the story is similar to what happened in our own backyard by building a Sayers Dam in Rad Eagle Creek. In both cases, farms, businesses, and churches were destroyed along the way. And rail beds were fixed on the edge of the mixed water. But in the case of New York, the railway business could not stand on its own, and the Ulster and Delaware railways were abandoned decades later. It took another two decades for leaders and volunteers to push for entertainment in this area. Finally, In 2019, he developed the Ashoka Railway and was successful.

The 11.5-mile trail offers something for almost everyone. Exercise, amazing views, history and of course – plants for plant lovers. Efforts have been made to protect the habitats of many animals and plants, such as the Hudson Valley Railroad.

The photograph details the local history and the reservoir, highlighting past villages such as the Ashokan Railroad.

But perhaps more importantly, these wetlands slow down the flow of rainwater and retain most of the sediment. In addition, for excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus, and toxins.) This reservoir provides 40% of New York’s drinking water.

When the railway line moved in 1913 to fill the reservoir, a large wet field was removed. The creation of the railway was allowed to be corrected. The mall was removed, and a 520-foot sidewalk was built to restore natural water flow through the wetlands. This is a great sight for Indigenous people, such as the Red Map, the Button Shrub, and the Tosok Terrace, as well as the power of ordinary reed invaders.

The railway was diverted to another section of 880 feet to protect some shallow water. These collect water in the spring and dry in mid-summer. These pools contain a variety of plants, such as ornaments and delicate ferns. Deep water is a great place for many frogs and salamanders.

If you stay at Norri Mills State Park (see July 17 article), the nearest trail (Woods Dick) is only 34 minutes away. Unlike the Hudson Valley Railway and the sidewalk above Hudson, this railway is unpaved but still suitable for all bikes (and good for walking). While this is a great route for all seasons, I think the fall views are worth a visit.


Photo courtesy of a man riding the Ashoka Railroad Stone walls and foundations appear next to the reservoir, reminders of displaced communities for the Ashoka Reservoir.

Tom Butler, a horticulturist with the State University of Pennsylvania Cooperative Expansion Service, can be reached 570-726-0022.

Photo above The view of the Katskil Mountains from the Railway on the Ashokan Reservoir can be seen above.

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