Bike, Run, or Walk Your Way Along the Hudson Valley’s Rail Trails

The Walkway Over the Hudson is part of the Dutchess Rail Trail. Wikimedia Commons / Juliancolton

Take a break to unwind during a scenic trek along the rail trails that wind their way along glistening lakes and over lush, local hillsides.

By Bryan Casey and Sabrina Sucato, with additional reporting by Kayla Sexton

Scenic waters and lush woods make the Hudson Valley a prominent place for escape and adventure. While steep hikes and daring cliffs are favorites for viewing the region’s breathtaking panoramas, sometimes even the greatest adventure seekers seek more relaxing meanders. Luckily for Hudson Valley residents, there are a variety of different rail trails to take a tranquil journey through nature.

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Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail

Albany to Voorheesville; access points in Albany, Delmar, Slingerlands, and Voorheesville
9 miles
Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
Views: Albany skyline, Normans Kill river, and historic signs

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Albany County residents can venture outdoors to enjoy the peaceful terrain on this rail trail. This south-of-Albany trail runs nine miles through the county’s suburbs; keep an eye out for deer, turkeys, or even bald eagles flying overhead. Walkers can journey to Bethlehem Veterans Memorial Park for a quick rest and then hop back on the trail to Delmar to be greeted by a nature mural painted by local artists.

The Ashokan Rail Trail around the Ashokan Reservoir. Photo courtesy of Parks & Trails New York

Ashokan Rail Trail

Boiceville to West Hurley; access points in West Hurley, Shokan, and Boiceville
11.5 miles
Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
Views: The Ashokan Reservoir

This rail trail, which debuted in 2019, brings visitors along 11.5 miles of the beautiful Ashokan Reservoir. Learn the history of the area on the flat crush-stone trail and discover the importance of the Ashokan Reservoir’s role in supplying New York City with water. Ulster County residents are lucky to have a stunning water backdrop for their daily workout. Walking, running, and biking are all great activities to perform on this flat crushed stone trail, which is open year-round.

rail trail
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Dutchess Rail Trail

Hopewell Junction to Poughkeepsie; access points in East Fishkill, Wappinger, LaGrange, and Poughkeepsie
13 miles
Open year-round
Views: Farm fields, ponds, and wetlands

For a relaxing stroll, come walk on this paved 13-mile rail trail. The William R. Steinhaus Duchess Rail Trail is a great balance between naturally shaded areas, sunny private bridges, and echoey tunnels. Take a familiar walk, run, or bike through the Towns of Wappinger, LaGrange, and Poughkeepsie on a journey to reach the beloved Walkway Over the Hudson. With a smoothly paved road on one side and a dirt path on the other, visitors can choose their preferred terrain to travel.

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rail trail
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Harlem Valley Rail Trail

Wassaic to Hillsdale; access points in Wassaic, Millerton, Copake Falls, and Hillsdale
26 miles
Open year-round
Views: Woods, wetlands, and farms

Looking for a longer trail with views galore? The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is the one for you. Following the former Upper Harlem Line of the Penn Central Railroad, walkers can observe relics of the past, like once-busy rail stations. For nature lovers, the trail is home to local wildlife like deer, beavers, ducks, and foxes.

Hook Mountain/Nyack Beach Bikeway

Access point on North Route 9W, Nyack
5 miles
Open year-round
Views: The Hudson River and Palisades Cliffs

Although it’s not technically a rail trail, the bikeway is a top pick for bikers and walkers in Rockland County. Along the southern portion of the trail, visitors can expect smoother terrain. The northern half, on the other hand, is hillier and rockier, making it more of a challenge for bikers looking to tackle it.

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Hudson Valley Rail Trail

Poughkeepsie to New Paltz
7.1 miles
Views: Hudson River, forests, and wetlands

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On the Ulster side of the Walkway Over the Hudson is the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, a 7.1-mile asphalt trail which ends in New Paltz. It starts off near the shops in the hamlet of Highland and then turns into more wide-open space. Along the trail you will find Hudson River views, bridges, unique boulder outcroppings, lush forest, and a path through the Black Creek Wetlands.

Kingston Greenline

Access points throughout Kingston
20 miles once complete
Open year-round
Views: The Hudson River and surrounding Kingston neighborhoods

A developing trail in the Kingston area, the Kingston Greenline is an exciting addition for Ulster County. A number of sections have been completed, so visit the website to see what’s open and what’s still in development.

Orange Heritage Trail Way

Goshen to Harriman; access points in New Hampton, Goshen, Chester, Monroe, and Harriman
18 miles
Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
Views: 6 ½ Station Sanctuary marshlands, small Orange County communities, and rolling hills

Orange Heritage Trail Way is a winding, 18-mile expanse that was built on the former Erie Railroad. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, especially native birds, as the trail passes through a wildlife sanctuary containing streams and meadows as far as the eye can see. The 10-foot-wide road, which passes through various towns and villages, along with historic landmarks and Museum Village, is paved, making it a perfect location for a bike ride, rollerblade journey, or skate session.

Port Jervis Watershed Trails

Access points Reservoir Avenue, Port Jervis
30 miles of trails
Open year-round
Views: Various foot bridges along scenic trails

Located in the Port Jervis area, this network of trails has been constructed by a volunteer workforce. It’s a great spot to visit for anyone looking to explore the great outdoors and get away from the city, or just the stresses of life, for a while.

River-to-Ridge Trail

Access points in New Paltz
6 miles

Open year-round
Views: The Shawangunk Ridge and the Northern Catskills

If an escape outdoors with breathtaking panoramas to match is your thing, then the River-to-Ridge Trail is your place. Led by the Open Space Institute in partnership with Mohonk Preserve and support from the Butler Conservation fund, the trail connects New Paltz to the Shawangunk Ridge and the 90 miles of recreational carriage roads and trails that zigzag across the Mohonk Preserve and the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, as well as the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

Walden-Wallkill Rail Trail

Access points in Shawangunk, Walden, and Wallkill
4 miles
Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
Views: Wallkill River and adjacent woods. Includes an unpaved section that is favored by mountain bikers

One of the shorter rail trails on the list, the Walden-Wallkill Rail Trail is still just as scenic. Access the longer, paved section from Woodruff Street in Walden, from which it runs three miles. For a shorter, 1.3-mile stroll that’s ideal for mountain bikers and horseback riders, the northern end of the trail is the place to be. This portion connects to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail via an on-road route to Denniston Road, making it perfect for visitors who want to meander longer.

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

Wallkill to Kingston

The former Wallkill Valley Railroad line is now a great historical walking path which runs for over 22 miles. Trekkers can traverse through Gardiner, New Paltz, Rosendale, and Ulster to end up in Kingston for a much-deserved bite to eat. While on the 10-foot-wide paths, locals can observe the Hudson Valley’s farms or take a short break to explore any of the towns through which the trail runs. The northern sections of the trail will be part of the 750-mile Empire State Trail.

Orange County’s Heritage Trail passes through Museum Village. | Photo courtesy of Museum Village
Orange County’s Heritage Trail passes through Museum Village. | Photo courtesy of Museum Village

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