NYS Trails and Historical Walking Tours

Mon, Oct 1, 2007 • General

PEPA supports an interconnected network of primary, regional and local trails that will link communities and parks. With the ever increasing emphasis on the need to be physically active to sustain and improve physical and mental health, more and more people, especially seniors and families, are using and asking for more trails to be built within their communities. Trails preserve historic landscapes, keep us in touch with our state's natural history, and provide a respite from urban and suburban sprawl.


Trails can also help protect valuable open space; preserve natural and historic resources; increase tourism and recreation-related business activity; provide safe off-road links to parks, schools, libraries, shops, and neighborhoods; and foster public-private partnerships, community investment, and civic pride. Walking is one of the easiest ways to become more physically active and control weight. And what better place to walk than on a local trail? Close to home, multi-use trails can provide free or low cost opportunities for everyone, irrespective of age or fitness level, to increase their level of daily physical activity. People who report having access to sidewalks and trails are 28-55% more likely to be physically active. In a 2002 survey of recent homebuyers sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders, trails ranked as the second most important community amenity out of a list of 18 choices.


PEPA is a member of the New York State Trails Coalition, and supports Action Plan 2008: Making New York A Pre-eminent Trail State. The plan's goals state that trails will be acknowledged as an essential and mainstream element of community infrastructure, much as utility lines and sidewalks are thought of today. Beyond its borders, New York will be recognized as one of the most trail-rich and trail-friendly states and will attract visitors from across the nation and abroad to experience the historic communities and varied and beautiful landscapes accessible through the state's trail network.

For up to date information on trail advocacy and a legislative agenda that highlights bills and other initiatives that support sustainable trails, please visit the website for Parks & Trails New York, a citizens' advocacy group that follows NYS legislative and Office of Parks business closely. They lead the way in advocating for increased trails and parkland opportunities throughout New York State.

What PEPA has Done Locally?

PEPA created the Ophir Farm Trail and Manhattanville Walking Tour to celebrate the land's rich history and recent advances while identifying noteworthy sites on the Purchase campus to incorporate into a public walking trail. The Hudson River Valley Greenway designated the trail as an official segment of the Greenway Trail System.

The historical walking trail contains 14 locations including Reid Castle, assigned to the National Register of Historical Places in 1974, and surviving structures from the "Model Farm Group." The Ophir Farm and Manhattanville College book and trail map are free and available online or at the Reid Castle reception area. The tour includes over three miles of trails and is open to the public year-round.

Nationally, expansion into formerly rural areas has resulted in the loss of open space, wetlands and historic structures to commercial, residential, industrial and road development. College campuses help preserve undeveloped land, and PEPA and Manhattanville believe the book and walking tour provide a guide to action when that land offers historical, cultural and recreational opportunities.

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