Black Rock Forest
A Jewel of the Hudson Valley
Story by Jeff Simms
Photo: Courtesy of Black Rock Forest
There’s something undeniably special about spending time outdoors, especially in the Hudson River Valley. Its lush, green forests ground and rejuvenate us, while the fresh air and sunshine energize our spirits and nourish our bodies.
Last fall, at the height of leaf season, about 75 people gathered at the edge of Black Rock Forest, a nearly 4,000-acre privately owned but publicly accessible “living laboratory” in Orange County, to celebrate access to the natural world.
The event was not just for the hikers and bikers among us but for everyone—young or old, as well as those with physical disabilities—to have the opportunity to experience the outdoors. The occasion was the opening of the Visitor Access Pathway (VAP), a quarter-mile, fully ADA-accessible pathway that can be safely traversed by just about anyone—including people using wheelchairs or walkers, or families with young children in strollers.
The 10-foot-wide packed-stone pathway (a gentle 7 percent grade makes it ideal for wheelchairs or strollers) meanders through a 100-year-old oak forest and past fern-covered cliffs before ending in a clearing that showcases breathtaking, 50-mile views up the Hudson Valley and on to the Shawangunk and Catskill mountain ranges.