Appalachian National Scenic Trail – Pawling, NY
In May 2018, National Park Trust joined The Trust for Public Land, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and Oblong Land Conservancy in the $2.38 million purchase of woodlands near Pawling, New York. The 219-acre property was transferred to the National Park Service for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) in July 2018.
Adding the land to the AT preserves exceptional scenic views over the property; the land was planned for a 50-unit subdivision, had it not been acquired for the AT.
The NPS can relocate a length of the AT to the new addition and avoid a marshy wetland where current hiker traffic is in conflict habitat of several endangered animal species. Another section can be rerouted from private land and NPS will be able to move a parking area away from the landmark Dover Oak. The eastern white oak is the largest tree along the entire length of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and compaction of soil by cars parked around it threatens its root system and long-term survivability. It is a local landmark and the largest white oak in New York State at over 114 feet in height and a circumference of over 20 feet.
Another great feature of this section of the trail is that hikers can reach it by a 1.5-hour train trip from Grand Central Station in New York City, disembarking at the Appalachian Trail Train Stop. The train runs twice a day in the morning and again in the afternoon on the weekends making this section of the Appalachian Trail one of the most accessible units of the National Park System to an urban population.
Due to each of these unique attributes, this property was the number one priority for the National Park Service nationwide for 2018.
Project Years: 2017-2018
Parcel Size: 219 acres
Project Cost: $1,750,000
Park Trust Role: Fund administrative costs
Long Term Significance of the Acquisition:
- Ensures that the picturesque views of the Harlem Valley are not interrupted by housing development; the property had been platted for a subdivision
- Allows re-routing of the trail away from endangered species habitat, securing permanent habitat protection
- Allows re-route of trail from adjacent private property onto new acquisition
Value to the Park and Public:
- The permanent protection of Corbin Hill will significantly enhance the Appalachian Trail experience along with one of the most accessible and popular segments of the Trail.
- The property lies just below the Cat Rocks overlook, a spectacular vista that is one of the highlights of the A.T. in New York
National Park Trust has made concerted efforts over the past few years to protect and expand the land surrounding the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. In 2017, the Park Trust worked with The Trust for Public Land on the acquisition of an adjacent 1,494-acre parcel of old-growth woodland in Somerset County, ME. This land also protects the nearby Bald Mountain Pond, one of the few bodies of water in the lower 48 states which hold arctic char. The federally-listed threatened Canada lynx also roams nearby along with moose, fisher and black bears. The remoteness and scenic views make the property an iconic destination for backcountry adventures that combine paddling and hiking on the AT into a single day’s outing. It is one of the largest uncut forest blocks in central Maine with individual trees cored at almost 200 years old.
In 1996, National Park Trust also purchased a small but historic viewshed atop South Mountain, near Highfield-Cascade in Maryland. The site was a part of the Confederate artillery position during the September 14, 1862 Battle of South Mountain, where over 5,000 casualties occurred as troops marched to the Battle of Antietam on September 17. By preserving this land and donating it to the National Park Service hikers can continue to see the landscape that played a pivotal role in the Civil War.