The Nature Conservancy Opens its First Shared-Use Trail System in New York for Hikers, Bikers and Runners

Mathew Levine/The Nature Conservancy
06/06/2024

The Nature Conservancy, Genesee Regional Off-road Cyclists, Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the Town of Naples hosted a grand opening on National Trails Day at Hickory Ridge Preserve (formerly known as West Hill Preserve) of an environmentally sustainable shared-use trail system.

At 3.5-miles, the new trail is the first phase of a planned 13-mile system that offers enhanced access to nature while reducing negative environmental impacts, such as erosion and sediment pollution into a nearby trout stream rated AA by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The trail is now open to the public seven days a week, from dawn till dusk, and it is appropriate for beginner and intermediate hikers, mountain bikers and trail-runners. It is the Nature Conservancy’s first shared-use trail in New York and is designed to be accessible to adaptive mountain bike users.

“It turns out that with science and thoughtful design, you get a win-win for outdoor recreation access and nature,” said Mathew Levine, director of stewardship for The Nature Conservancy in New York. “During the pandemic, visitation at our New York preserves tripled; and while the trend has cooled, a lot of that growth remains. It’s a great thing when we can offer more to visitors while meeting our goals to protect nature and fight climate change. Hearing from the community about their needs before we broke ground was such an important part of this process and something we’re committed to continuing.”

The new trails replace a system of steep and degraded paths especially susceptible to muddy conditions after heavy rain. Environmental benefits of the new system include reduced erosion and sediment pollution, as well as an improved crossing over the preserve’s sensitive wetlands that protect its natural features and habitat.

“Shared-use trails offer a far greater range of experiences to users, which we learned was an important goal through listening sessions with the community,” said Rob Silker, president, Genesee Regional Off-road Cyclists. "When all stakeholders and users groups are heard through the planning and design process the end product of these world class trails meet the needs of the greater community.”

"The Finger Lakes Trail Conference is excited to be an active supporter and partner of community trail projects like this one. We believe that increased access to sustainable trail systems such as this improves the lives of those in that community. We are happy that Naples is one of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference's trail towns and look forward to continued partnership in the region," said Nathan Hayes, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference.

“The Town and Village of Naples are thrilled to add a new sustainable, shared-use trail, highlighting what makes Naples so special – access to nature and a spirit of hands-on community-building,” said Sean Sullivan, Village Board Trustee and Commissioner of Business and Community Development.

While Hickory Ridge Preserve has many accessible features to accommodate a wider range of users, it is not wheelchair accessible. A wheelchair accessible trail is currently underway at Moss Lake Preserve in Houghton, New York, and expected to be complete in 2025.

 


About The Nature Conservancy:

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

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