Opening of a new information booth at the Black Diamond Trail
ITHACA, NY – As the weather warms and more people are looking to get outside, exploring Tompkins County’s various trails continues to be a popular way to experience nature and enjoy the summer weather on foot and by car.
The Black Diamond Trail, an Ithaca favorite since it opened to the public in 2016, sees walkers, joggers, and cyclists year-round, and visitors will now be greeted by a newly constructed gazebo located at the trailhead. More than 30 cycling enthusiasts and supporters attended a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday afternoon to celebrate the establishment of the new kiosk.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was hosted by the Finger Lakes Regional Headquarters of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to unveil the information booth and surrounding space. . Fred Bonn, regional manager of Finger Lakes State Park, said the gazebo is intended to create a signature point marking the start of the trail.
According to Bonn, the gazebo has been part of the trail’s vision for more than 20 years and has been in the works for eight years, but has now been made possible with additional funds and donations.
The trailhead is located at the intersection of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail and the Black Diamond Trail, adjacent to the Ithaca Kindergarten near Cass Park.
The spot includes a new bike repair station for flat tires and other repairs courtesy of Cayuga Ski and Cyclery. The kiosk also provides interpretive panels including a map, history and description of the Black Diamond as well as others in Tompkins County. Friends of Stewart Park donated benches and bike racks and additional work on the site and sign installation was done by state park staff.
In addition to establishing a landmark to help people find the trailhead, the gazebo also serves as a tribute to Andrejs Ozolins, a longtime Finger Lakes Cycling Club (FLCC) member and prominent advocate for the creation of the trail and bike safety, who passed away in May 2019. Ozolins was well known in the local cycling community for his passion and activism for safe and enjoyable travel for cyclists, drivers and walkers. FLCC vice president Doug Dylla said Ozolins has been a key member of the Finger Lakes Cycling Club for decades, helping coordinate weekly group rides, maintaining the organization’s website and organizing excursions. weekends in cities like Montreal and Pittsburgh.
“He has always been an avid cyclist – recruiting new cyclists, encouraging them to push the limits and advocating for improved cycling infrastructure in Ithaca and the region,” Dylla wrote in an email to The Voice of Ithaca. “Almost every cyclist I know remembers Andrejs on their first rides – helping fix their bikes or waiting on top of a big hill or just chatting while riding together.”
Ozolins, who was able to see the trail’s completion before his death, helped build political support for its completion. According to Dylla, more than 40 FLCC members donated a total of more than $10,000 to the new trail kiosk in her memory. There is a rock next to the gazebo displaying a plaque of his name so anyone passing by the trailhead can learn about his heritage.
Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis, an avid local cyclist, said she hopes the kiosk will make it easier to find the Black Diamond Trail and encourage more people to take advantage of local trail systems, especially to see wildlife and scenic areas not found elsewhere. . “Telling people where the Black Diamond Trail begins in Ithaca has always been a little difficult because there hasn’t been a visible demarcation,” Lewis said. Now families can park in the parking lot near the trailhead kiosk and explore the trail using the map displayed on the kiosk.
“Now you can say, ‘I’ll meet you at the gazebo at the trailhead,'” Lewis said.
The Black Diamond Trail runs along what was once the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which carried the Black Diamond Express that ran from New York to Buffalo from 1896 to 1959. Today, the Black Diamond Trail stretches approximately 8.5 miles from Alan H. Treman State Park. Marina/Cass Park to Taughannock Falls State Park. The trail serves as both a popular recreational trail and a commuter link between the town of Ithaca and the village of Trumansburg.