Hiking fans take note -- Breakneck Ridge, the popular Hudson Valley hiking trail that draws thousands each year -- will be closed early next year for at least a year for improvements.
Located between two counties including Philipstown in Putnam and Fishkill in Dutchess, the trail is known for being one of the toughest day hikes anywhere in the country.
The closure will allow for two major projects that will make the area safer and more enjoyable, said Amy Kacala, a senior community planner at Scenic Hudson.
During the work, one major change will be the suspension of Metro-North train service to the Breakneck Ridge train platform for safety reasons, Kacala said.
"It is such a constrained construction area it was important to stop service," she added.
Currently, cars park in clusters along the busy Route 9D, and an unpaved area that is used for pull-offs has led to numerous accidents including pedestrians.
One project will repair portions of the 4.4-mile trail and the second will build a half-mile, shared-use 12-foot-wide walking path from the platform to the trailhead, along with new parking areas, and a welcome station, Kacala said.
"The new platform will be ADA compliant and improvements will allow commuters and hikers to exit the trains faster," Kacala said.
The upgrades to the trails, which will include the removal of graffiti from the trail along with making it safer to traverse, are being paid for by the New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Department.
The other work is being privately funded by Scenic Hudson and the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, she said.
During the work Scenic Hudson, along with the NYNJ Trail Conference, Putnam Transit and Metro-North plan a large education campaign with maps to let hikers and visitors to the area know about different hiking spots in the area, Kacala said.
Metro-North will make stops at Cold Spring and Beacon train stations where trolley rides will be offered to the other destinations.
Although the project is expected to take a year, Kacala said the return of train service will take a little over a year.
Currently, Scenic Hudson is getting ready to put the project out to bid so the work can begin and the more than 80,000 visitors a year can get back to their favorite hike.
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