Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

June 15, 2021

Dan Keefe | Brian Nearing
(518) 486-1868 |

New York State Announces Opening of Big Woods and Appalachian Trail Trailheads at Fahnestock State Park

Partnership with Open Space Institute Adds Two New Trailheads and Parking Areas for Expanded Access to Park's Western Areas

Support From $5 Million Private Donation

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of new parking and trail access at Fahnestock State Park and the Appalachian Trail in Putnam County in partnership with the Open Space Institute. 

"These improvements will make it safer and easier for people to reach the western areas of Fahnestock by mitigating the current unsafe practice of visitors parking on the shoulder of busy State Route 301," Governor Cuomo said. "This is another example of how we are building back better after the pandemic, and it will help more people have more options to explore this wonderful park."

The $5 million project was supported by the not-for-profit Open Space Institute (OSI) through a generous contribution from the Topfield Foundation supported by prominent Hudson Valley conservationist and philanthropist, Anne Perkins Cabot. 

Under the project, a new trailhead and 25-car parking lot is now open off State Route 301 west of Canopus Lake, which will reduce current hiker parking along the busy highway. The project also includes a second new trailhead and 15-car parking lot off Route 301 for the nearby Appalachian Trail, as well as Fahnestock State Park gateway signage at US Route 9 and the Taconic State Parkway announcing arrival at the park. 

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "State Parks is grateful for this partnership with OSI and the generous support of Anne Perkins Cabot, whose family has been such stewards and advocates for the Hudson Highlands for many years. These projects will help more people safely reach the trails at Fahnestockand the Appalachian Trail to experience the beauty of this area." 

The Perkins-Cabot family has lived in the area for decades and in 1991, transferred more than 1,700 acres to OSI that eventually became part of Fahnestock State Park. Cabot is a founding family member of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and is also a board member of the Palisades Parks Conservancy. 

During the last decade, more than three million people have visited FahnestockState Park, which is spread across more than 14,000 acres in Putnam and Dutchess counties. Annual visitation at the park is up more than 38 percent during this period. 
Fahnestock State Park has more than 62 miles of hiking trails, as well as 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches about 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. 

OSI President and CEO Kim Elliman said, "OSI's construction of the Big Woods Drive and internal trailhead is helping visitors fully enjoy this scenic landscape by creating new interior access to the Fahnestock land that OSI has protected over the past decades and turning Route 301 into a true park drive. Thanks to the generosity of Anne Cabot, this project will improve visitor safety, navigation, and access to the park and is helping people of all abilities love and appreciate this unparalleled landscape." 

Anne Cabot said, "My grandfather, George Perkins, followed by his son, my father, loved the Hudson Valley. This love inspired them to protect the land and build partnerships that would forever expand the public's enjoyment of this region.  As the public's use and appreciation for the land has grown and evolved over the years, they would have loved that the project we celebrate today, created through a partnership between New York State Parks, the Open Space Institute, and the Topfield Foundation, will continue their vision of conservation, stewardship, and public access to a landscape our family has treasured for generations." 

Senator Sue Serino said, "With New Yorkers taking to our green spaces like never before, we are grateful to OSI and to Anne Perkins Cabot for making an investment that will enable countless residents and visitors alike to safely explore the great Fahnestock State Park. These trailheads and designated parking areas are exciting additions to the local area, and we hope these projects will serve as models to inspire other partnerships throughout the Hudson Valley where similar challenges exist."

Assembly Member Sandy Galef said, "This past year has shown us just how crucial access to open spaces in nature is for mental and physical well-being.  The opening of the new parking and trailheads at Fahnestock State Park could not be more timely as hikers and enthusiasts of the outdoors will be all the more eager to get outside this summer.  Thank you to the Cabot Family for protecting this Hudson Valley landscape and to the Open Space Institute's vision and commitment for bringing this project to life."  

President of Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks Hank Osborn said, "The Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks are pleased that this plan has come to fruition. As members of the community, each member of the board of directors is keenly aware of the important concerns these improvements will remedy. Number one is safety. Parking improvements will allow hikers and other trail users a safer experience while also improving the safety of all those traveling the Route 301 corridor through Fahnestock.  Besides a safer parking experience, visitors will also enjoy improved access to more areas of the park."   

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said, "Fahnstock State Park has always been a great resource for Putnam County residents and visitors, but in this pandemic era it became a real lifesaver as people flocked to the great outdoors for safe, healthy fun. It's just fantastic that the park will now be able to welcome more visitors and give residents and day trippers alike greater access to Fahnstock'snatural beauty.  For those who like hiking, picnicking, row boating, fishing, cross-country skiing or or just relaxing at a sandy beach, Fahnstock has it all, and this generous gift will make it much more accessible."  

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley said, "The installation and completion of these dedicated parking areas will provide safe parking away from the busy roadway for those who come to enjoy the scenic trails here in Putnam County.  I applaud everyone involved in bringing this project to fruition thereby creating safety for motorists and hikers alike."  

Putnam County Legislator Nancy Montgomery said, "This is a seamless collaborative effort between Mrs. Cabot, OSI, the State, and the taxpayer. It is precisely the type of development we need to solve a local problem, by keeping our roads safe, protecting our wilderness, and providing access for all to this Hudson Highlands gem. It's clear that the stakeholders of this project understand that the local government of Philipstown is at the lead of recognizing the value of stewarding open spaces."  

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches that were visited by a record 78 million people in 2020. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors supports $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. 

For more information, visit, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.