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

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

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

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.

Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail

Albany to Voorheesville

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

This new 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.

Dutchess Rail Trail

Hopewell Junction to Poughkeepsie

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.

Hudson Valley Rail Trail

Poughkeepsie to New Paltz

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.

Harlem Valley Rail Trail

Wassaic to Hillsdale

While 16 miles of trail are currently open, eventually the Harlem Valley Rail Trail will boast over 26 miles of paved walking area. 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. Eight miles of the trail north of Main Street in Millerton opens at the end of November. This segment, plus a planned one-mile trail segment near Taconic State Park (that will include a pedestrian bridge over Route 22), will complete the continuous 26.6-mile trail.

Orange Heritage Trail Way

Goshen to Harriman

Orange Heritage Trail Way is a winding, 14-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.

A view of the Wallkill Valley Trail from Joppenbergh Mountain in Rosendale.
Photo by John Fischer Photography

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. In July, the Open Space Institute (OSI), in partnership with Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT), and the Hudson River Valley Greenway, announced a $1 million plan to improve the northern 9.5-mile stretch of the trail beginning at Cragswood Road in New Paltz and ending at Route 32 in the City of Kingston.

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