By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — A new hiking trail offering sweeping views of the Pepacton Reservoir is set to open next week just outside the village of Andes, thanks to a partnership between New York City watershed watchdogs, hiking enthusiasts and local officials.
Ann Roberti, a computer programmer from Andes who is also a board member of the Catskill Mountain Club, said she hopes local shops will see more business as a result of hikers coming into the area to try out the Shavertown Trail, on land owned by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
The new 5.2 mile trail underscores the DEP’s efforts to open more of its land for recreational use, according to agency spokesman Adam Bosch.
The trail project received support from the town of Andes, the Catskill Mountain Club, the local community group Andes Works and the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference.
Roberti said she began looking for potential trail sites near Andes after hearing a speaker from the Trail Conference discuss how locating “family friendly” hiking trails near villages can have a beneficial impact on merchants in those communities.
Roberti, who is also a member of Andes Works, said part of the idea was to show the group was more multi-dimensional than just being opposed to hydrofracking for natural gas. The goal was to have the organization promote positive developments for the community, not just stopping what the group views as an environmentally risky undertaking such as gas drilling.
Nudged by Andes Works, the town of Andes banned fracking last year even though most of the community is located inside the watershed, where drilling is already prohibited.
The Shavertown Trail, Roberti said, should have broad appeal to the full spectrum of hikers, from the very young to those of advanced years.
“The first part of the trail is a little harder than the rest of it,” she said. “It’s moderate in the first mile, and then it’s pretty easy after that,” particularly where it begins to follow a ridge.
The trailhead is situated near the kayak/canoe storage area off of County Route 1, six miles south of Andes.
Andes Town Supervisor Martin Donnelly praised Roberti for being the driving force behind the new trail, which is set to make its public debut on Aug. 30.
“She’s done so much work, and she’s done so much work, she really deserves a lot of credit,” Donnelly said. “We know from the Andes Rail Trail, which just had it’s one-year anniversary, that people come and they walk these trails. That trail is used every single day by many people. This new trail was really a good thought, and not only did Ann think of it, she physically worked on it with other volunteers.”