A new wheelchair-accessible trail winds through a field at the Dean Farm in Stony Creek.
Stony Creek Town employees recently began their second season of construction on the 1.3-mile wheelchair-accessible trail at the Dean Homestead Museum.
Just south of Thurman, the town of Stony Creek is located along the 62-mile First Wilderness Heritage Corridor – featuring the Hudson River and Saratoga & North Creek Railway. Warren County planners have been helping Corridor communities with infrastructure projects in the hopes of attracting tourists along the rail line. One project is the Dean Homestead trail system.
“The train runs along the river through town here,” said Stony Creek Town Supervisor Frank Thomas. “We just need to link our center here with the train, and that’s part of the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor. And hopefully when it’s all done there will be enough attractions, so it will really be something for people to come to and anticipate being here.”
In the 1990s, about 10 acres of the old Dean farm on the west side of Murray Road (the creek side) was deeded to the Stony Creek Historical Association for a museum, and 217 acres on the east side of the road was deeded to the SUNY-ESF Foundation.
Officially called the Francis Dean Farm Heritage Trails, town leaders have been working on the trail system since 2008. Thanks to an application filed by Warren County in 2010, the town secured state grant money for the project — a 50-50 matching grant, with the town and state each contributing $220,000. Phase 1 is the establishment of a 1.3-mile wheelchair trail around the museum.
Construction began on Phase 1 of the project in 2012 and is continuing this summer. The ADA-compliant trail system, located on the Stony Creek side of the Murray Road, should be completed by the fall. The wheelchair-accessible trail leads visitors through open meadows and woodlands and ends at an overlook on Stony Creek. The town recently hired a graphic designer to create a collection of 11 interpretive signs describing the flora and fauna of the property, and they should be complete by the end of the year.
“I guess I would have to give credit to the Department of Environmental Conservation for that,” Thomas said. “Part of this money that the town is spending on these signs was an environmental betterment project in which the town and the department came to an agreement as part of a settlement for a fuel tank violation. They were willing to do something like that. We had to pay the fine anyway.”
Phase 2 will feature about 4 miles of trails on the east side of Murray Road and should begin in 2014.