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Black Diamond Trail completion connects cycling community

September 30, 2013

Upon completion next fall, the Black Diamond trail in Ithaca, will provide over 15 miles of interconnected pathways for cyclists and pedestrians alike, connecting Taughannock State Park, Allan H. Treman State Marine Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park and Robert Treman State Park.

The trail will be open by this time next year, said Fred Dunn, director of the Finger Lakes State Parks.

“It’s a project the community has long anticipated and I’m very excited that we’re nearing the completion of it,” Dunn said.

Nicole Roulstin, an Ithaca resident and cyclist, said she was eager to see the Black Diamond Trail completed trail because as of now, the trail is difficult to find.

“You don’t even know you’re on it,” Roulstin said.

Roulstin said she would rather see the trail paved, or at least smoothed-out because she said it’s too rocky to enjoy the ride.

Although the Cayuga Waterfront Trail would be asphalt, the more rural Black Diamond Trail would not, said Richard Manning, coordinator for the Cayuga Waterfront Trail initiative, said

The Black Diamond Trail, like the Jim Schug Trail, the East Shore Trail and the East Ithaca Recreation Way, is built upon old railway beds. Part of the trail will use an environmentally friendly limestone dust, which is cheaper to replace.

“The notion of creating trails on top of rail beds was nationwide phenomenon,” said Emily Coon, Cornell graduate and local cyclist, who has been riding bikes for her whole life. “There are large networks of trails that are built right on top of rail beds because it’s so much easier, since the trees and rocks have been cleared,” she said.

The completion of the Black Diamond Trail will improve accessibility to the outdoors, which Jean McPheeters, President of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, said is already the second most popular tourist attraction in Ithaca.

“We know that visiting the state parks and waterfalls is very important,” said McPheeters. “We also know that for biking, mountain biking particularly, we’ve been named by one of the mountain biking magazines as one of the 10 best places to mountain bike,” she said.

Outdoor shops have acknowledged how they could benefit from the more recently constructed trails, Steve Gelb, owner of Old Goat said. He said the greater length of the trail might require more equipment, which in turn could necessitate bikers visiting these shops for equipment.

“Some people plan vacations around trails or for some its just another thing you can do in a community. But the resources that we have – the water and the lake, the waterfalls – it’s pretty much a no-brainer to try and connect them with a trail,” Manning said.

Already in use, the foot and bike traffic on these trails will likely increase with their completion.

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