Watertown— While the sun came up for a bit, melting the snow in several counties, some locals hit Black River Trail. Black River Trail is a popular spot for those that like to jog, walk, bike, and snow shoe or cross country ski in the winter.
Plans are developing to take the trail all the way west and connect to the city parks near Eastern Boulevard, close to Waterworks Park. Schedule for construction is not available yet, but it’s on the map for the future.
According to Kevin A. Kieff, Regional Director for New York State Parks, Black River Trail was once an abandoned railroad, which dated back to the 1800s. The abandoned railroad was secured by the state and made into a recreational trail. The New York State Parks and Recreation rebuilt the old railroad into a trail, which expands 3.5 miles one way, totaling 7 miles round trip.
New York State Parks and Recreation began to clear the trails in May, 2002 of overgrown trees and paved the trail. By September 2003, people started to use the trail, “It’s been incredibly popular beyond our expectations. Fort Drum uses it quite a bit, whole platoons use it for PT”, said Mr. Kieff.
Westcott Beach State Park, about 8 miles outside of Watertown provides maintenance for the trail, which gets approximately 200-400 walk the trail daily. Although the historic Black River Trail expansion project is not scheduled to begin, Mr. Kieff was still hopeful:
“The trail is so popular, we really hope to expand Black River Trail and have it connect to all the other parks from Black River to Eastern Boulevard. The project is on our radar for the future. We are not scheduling the construction of the project just yet, but, we are looking into it for the future.”