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Duchess Rail Trail ride today

Old 10-27-13, 06:27 PM
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Steve B.
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Duchess Rail Trail ride today

Ah !, finally made the trip up from LI. Joined by a Westchester buddy, rode from the southern terminus in Hopewell Junction to a bit past the Walkway over the Hudson Bridge and into Orange County.

Great trail. About as flat a RT as you can find, certainly less elevation gained/loss then the North County or Harlem Valley RT up in Amenia

Total distance from HJ to the bridge is 13.5 miles one-way. The bridge adds about another 1.3 miles, then of course you can continue into Orange County another 4. We started as BTW, at the parking lot and depot off Railroad Ave., itself off Rt 376, just north of Rt 82. Easy to find, it's on Google Maps. There are also quite a few parking area's between HJ and the bridge, just look on Google maps - Satellite view for a shorter route.

Three things struck me:

1) There were a huge number of users out on a chilly Sunday. There was a stiff north wind and 55 deg. temps, and as it clouded over seemed colder, yet there were ton's of families, walkers, dogs, and a lot of cyclists. The trail is obviously getting used and that's just wonderful. There are many road crossings and at EVERY one, the motorists stopped to let us go. Just wonderful courtesy.

2) The county put a huge amount of money into this path. The signage is first class, with mileage markers every 1/2 mile starting in HJ. Benches and informative signs everywhere, almost too many to stop and read them all !. The highway crossings, especially over Rt 55 is just well done and obviously they put a lot of time and effort in getting this all correct. As well as money.

3) The Walkway over the Hudson is very much that - a walkway. As such and as a cyclist you need to be prepared for hordes of pedestrians. And children unattended. And dogs on the extreme end of their retractable leashes. And of course the errant 16 year old female texting on her phone and paying absolutely no attention to the surroundings. You can ride it but be prepared to stop often and to move slowly and to be patient. This is emphatically not the route for a roadie trying to get in their fast 50 miler. OTOH, the views are amazing, even if it's a huge and sudden change from the calm and relatively empty miles on the bike path. But it's worth every inch, somewhat like riding over the Golden Gate it's ultimately worth the trip up from Hope

Will try to add more photo's later, the site is limiting me to 2.
well Junction.
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Old 10-29-13, 02:13 AM
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The trail is terrific - glad you enjoyed it.

People are out and about on that trail even in the dead of winter - skiers, walkers, runners, even the occasional fat-tired bike.

The trail systems across the river are growing quickly as well. Eventually, the Walkway will connect with New Paltz and beyond.
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Old 10-29-13, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Fishy View Post
The trail systems across the river are growing quickly as well. Eventually, the Walkway will connect with New Paltz and beyond.
Google map shows that the Maybrook line - Hudson Valley Rail Trail, heads south and is just east of the rail trail that in dribs and drabs runs from Walden to New Paltz and eventually to Kingston. Hopefully they can find an easy point to link the two trails, right now it's a 4 mile road connection on Rt 200, not awful and doable.

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Old 10-29-13, 10:43 PM
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The Harlem Rail Trail is on the east side of Dutchess County. It runs from the Wassiac Station at the top of the Harlem Valley MetroNorth line to Millerton Station. (~10.5 miles).

There's an eight mile section of undeveloped rail bed that runs from Millerton to Mountain Road - at Mountain Road, the trail is paved again for four miles to the state park at Copake Falls. (It's an easy road ride to go from one section of the trail to the other.) There's another 24 miles of undeveloped trail from Copake to Chatham, NY. Ultimately, that could be a 46-mile rail trail!

Progress on that trail has been slow - the new county exec has made it more of a priority and money has been allocated to design 11 additional miles of trail.

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, as of September, now runs 24 miles from Gardiner to Kingston. (Google the Rosendale Trestle - it's spectacular.) Not really a trail for 23mm tires though...lots of crushed rock.

Eventually, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, (the trail on the west side of the Walkway), will be extended an extra mile to 299. After that, the plan is to find a way to connect the Wallkill trail to the Hudson Valley trail and, by extension, the Dutchess trail.
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Old 10-30-13, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Fishy View Post
The Harlem Rail Trail is on the east side of Dutchess County. It runs from the Wassiac Station at the top of the Harlem Valley MetroNorth line to Millerton Station. (~10.5 miles).

There's an eight mile section of undeveloped rail bed that runs from Millerton to Mountain Road - at Mountain Road, the trail is paved again for four miles to the state park at Copake Falls. (It's an easy road ride to go from one section of the trail to the other.) There's another 24 miles of undeveloped trail from Copake to Chatham, NY. Ultimately, that could be a 46-mile rail trail!

Progress on that trail has been slow - the new county exec has made it more of a priority and money has been allocated to design 11 additional miles of trail.

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, as of September, now runs 24 miles from Gardiner to Kingston. (Google the Rosendale Trestle - it's spectacular.) Not really a trail for 23mm tires though...lots of crushed rock.

Eventually, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, (the trail on the west side of the Walkway), will be extended an extra mile to 299. After that, the plan is to find a way to connect the Wallkill trail to the Hudson Valley trail and, by extension, the Dutchess trail.
Ah, yes my bad, I meant to type Hudson, and my fingers typed Harlem, that other great trail that I rode twice in '12. Can't wait till they extend that one as well. I'll edit my post.

Thanks for the correction.

Also glad to hear about the Walkill trail finished north to Kingston, I know it's also a gravel trail from Walkill down to Walden, but I don't think there's plans to head any further south due to Conrail still using the live south of Walden.

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Old 11-03-13, 02:50 PM
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My wife and I and some friends took this trail a few weeks ago. It's really nice. There are lots of people using it, all in great moods, happy to have this now. We stopped in the middle of the bridge and went back to Hopewell Junction.
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Old 04-21-19, 07:34 PM
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Took the train up to Poughkeepsie and did the Duchess County Rail trail today - and I have to say, it's in by far the best condition of any path I've ridden on. Extremely smooth, only one section where you can just detect a hint of the beginning of frost heaves, but only there and still only scarcely noticeable - overall the nicest riding I've experienced.

Nice signage, too, though the cumulative mile markers seem only to be visible when you're riding from the Hopwell Junction end towards Poughkeepsie. Bathroom at Hopewell was clean (though a sink would be nice) and vending machine worked, which added a welcome powerade to a fluids mix tuned for a more overcast day than it turned out.



Hopewell Junction, end of the Duchess County trail, 13 miles from Poughkeepsie


Then it was back to Poughkeepsie and cautiously across the Walkway Over the Hudson. Having been predicted to be a cloudy day and still not peak season that wasn't yet too crowded with folks on foot for riding slowly and courteously to work.


Start of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail on the west side of the river (trail itself is paved, gravel is just around this decoration)

By then I was feeling less on top of my game, and the train schedule I'd initially consulted showed a near 2-hour gap (turns out there were infill trains to Penn Station instead of Grand Central with only Amtrak scheduled in between) so I turned around a couple of miles out and headed back. There's a nice park rest area at the west side of the bridge - sinks, bottle filling station, etc.

Definitely recommended - the Duchess County path in particular for great conditions and low-stress riding. With the great surface it seems popular with casual recumbent riders (never seen so many in one ride) and even saw a family in a quadracycle pedal surrey. A round trip to the ends on both sides of the river would be about 35 miles, or a nice 50k if you cut it a few short as I did today.

Three pieces of advice:

1) The shoreline elevator up to the walkway is seasonal and currently closed for maintenance, check before heading up that way, otherwise it's a bit over a mile on quiet village streets gently uphill to the more eastern entrance. There are signs showing the way.

2) If traveling from NYC consult a schedule that shows both Grand Central and Penn Station trains; returning to the less convenient of the two still beats waiting an extra hour. Nope, those are Amtrak so they presumably charge more and don't take bikes. Hudson line really wants you to bring bungee cords to secure bikes.

3) Pizza place at the corner of the west parking lot in Poughkeepsie has huge slices for $4, just right for the train ride home

Theoretically Metro North is on the hook to extend the Hopewell end southeast (hah!) to Brewster as the Maybrook trail, at which point it will be within a mile or so of connecting with the Putnam trail coming up from the Bronx.

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Old 04-23-19, 04:12 AM
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I've done that ride a few times and love it. Park in Hopewell Junction ride up to and over the Walkway and back. Nice 30 mile day.
Both ends of that trail are nice.
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Old 04-23-19, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Jarrettsin View Post
I've done that ride a few times and love it. Park in Hopewell Junction ride up to and over the Walkway and back. Nice 30 mile day.
Both ends of that trail are nice.
Yeah they really did a great job. Also apparently the Hudson Valley trail has been extended in the last year but the final piece to connect to Walkill is still in progress.

A uni-friend wants to head up there but only for a shorter ride, may do the walkway and explore to the west extension then do Hopewell and back on my own in the afternoon to make the two hour train ride feel justified. Wish the trains were more often than every two hours though!
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Old 04-23-19, 12:30 PM
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I've got family in that area I should tell them about this trail
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Old 04-23-19, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I've got family in that area I should tell them about this trail
They don't know about it? That's crazy.

A year or two ago, my wife took our tandem and met another tandeming couple, and we did the whole trail, out and back. It was the longest the two of us had ever ridden our tandem, 36 miles round trip. It's a good thing the trail is flat, as that makes it easier.

I've been on it a few times now. Very nice.

I'm surprised there will be rail trails from Poughkeepsie to the Bronx. I did rode from High Falls to Yonkers a few summers ago, taking the Hudson Valley Rail Trail to Hopewell Junction, and I didn't find a non-hilly route south of Hopewell Junction. I ended up climbing Hosner Mountain which was difficult.
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Old 04-23-19, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I'm surprised there will be rail trails from Poughkeepsie to the Bronx. I did rode from High Falls to Yonkers a few summers ago, taking the Hudson Valley Rail Trail to Hopewell Junction, and I didn't find a non-hilly route south of Hopewell Junction. I ended up climbing Hosner Mountain which was difficult.
I suspect that's why none of these lines are remotely straight. From Hopewell the Maybrook will go east, then northeast before turning south. And at Brewster it will (almost) meet the Putnam line that's made it's own grand curvature. Speaking of curves it has near 180 degrees in Beekman just 1300 feet in diameter - about the same as Horseshoe Curve (but hopefully without the climb). And then passes "Nuclear Lake" The Appalachian Trail crosses it there, too.

Unfortunately the published plan doesn't include the grading data that of course exists on some fading railway map somewhere. But it does show the route. https://maybrooktrailway.org/wp-cont...t_20180227.pdf and it seemed like most of it is about a 1% grade.

I didn't really appreciate how flat something like the South County trail actual is until I got a ride back into the city from the north - there are some pretty serious open hillsides in Yonkers those railroad planners threaded between, in a way you don't really get a sense of from the wooded trail.

Ironically one of the few things I didn't like about the Duchess trail was the places it had sharp dips to a road crossing that they built on a curve, in one case a really wild ω of a shape. I'm assuming those where once trestles or embankments removed after the tracks were gone and perpendicular roads were built.

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Old 04-23-19, 07:12 PM
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Not sure there’s a plan to connect the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Orange County thru New Paltz to the Walkill Trail. The rail bed the HVT uses west from the bridge heads due south from its current western terminus at Tony Williams Park. HVT and Walkill were completely separate rail lines and didn’t connect in the New Paltz area.

Any connection is likely to be on street painted bike lane. It’s currently 5 miles on road thru NP.

But someday, Kingston down to New Paltz on the Walkill. A brief road detour and onto the HVT. Then across the bridge and down the Duchess trail TO BREWSTER. Then the Putnam and Westchester trails to the Bronx.

Or or a bit of a detour north to the Harlem Valley RT and up to damned near Albany. Or maybe east across Conn.

I hope I live to see the day,
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Old 04-23-19, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Not sure there’s a plan to connect the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Orange County thru New Paltz to the Walkill Trail. The rail bed the HVT uses west from the bridge heads due south from its current western terminus at Tony Williams Park. HVT and Walkill were completely separate rail lines and didn’t connect in the New Paltz area.

Any connection is likely to be on street painted bike lane. It’s currently 5 miles on road thru NP.
Hmm, my source of info was an Ulster County video at
and also
Update on Empire State Trail/HVRT from NYS DOT | New Paltz NY

It does seem like the overall Empire State Trail plan is showing more on-road routing, but that video seems to imply they are building a distinct trail as far as South Street (Lowe's), and possible even as far as the throughway. It has definitely in the last year been extended further west than Tony Williams Park.

And then yes, they're going to go up to Kingston (there's some plan to route around the prison) and then back over the river and further north.
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Old 04-23-19, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Hmm, my source of info was an Ulster County video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F4Tmx-p9Ow and also
Update on Empire State Trail/HVRT from NYS DOT | New Paltz NY

It does seem like the overall Empire State Trail plan is showing more on-road routing, but that video seems to imply they are building a distinct trail as far as South Street (Lowe's), and possible even as far as the throughway. It has definitely in the last year been extended further west than Tony Williams Park.

And then yes, they're going to go up to Kingston (there's some plan to route around the prison) and then back over the river and further north.
Pretty cool. They are indeed extending the existing trail as far as they can, then will do an on-street thru New Paltz.
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Old 04-24-19, 08:19 PM
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The ultimate goal is to have a trail from NYC to the Canadian border. This will form a T with the Erie Canal trail that goes from Buffalo to Albany.
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Old 04-26-19, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Ah !, finally made the trip up from LI. Joined by a Westchester buddy, rode from the southern terminus in Hopewell Junction to a bit past the Walkway over the Hudson Bridge and into Orange County.

Great trail. About as flat a RT as you can find, certainly less elevation gained/loss then the North County or Harlem Valley RT up in Amenia

Total distance from HJ to the bridge is 13.5 miles one-way. The bridge adds about another 1.3 miles, then of course you can continue into Orange County another 4. We started as BTW, at the parking lot and depot off Railroad Ave., itself off Rt 376, just north of Rt 82. Easy to find, it's on Google Maps. There are also quite a few parking area's between HJ and the bridge, just look on Google maps - Satellite view for a shorter route.

Three things struck me:

1) There were a huge number of users out on a chilly Sunday. There was a stiff north wind and 55 deg. temps, and as it clouded over seemed colder, yet there were ton's of families, walkers, dogs, and a lot of cyclists. The trail is obviously getting used and that's just wonderful. There are many road crossings and at EVERY one, the motorists stopped to let us go. Just wonderful courtesy.

2) The county put a huge amount of money into this path. The signage is first class, with mileage markers every 1/2 mile starting in HJ. Benches and informative signs everywhere, almost too many to stop and read them all !. The highway crossings, especially over Rt 55 is just well done and obviously they put a lot of time and effort in getting this all correct. As well as money.

3) The Walkway over the Hudson is very much that - a walkway. As such and as a cyclist you need to be prepared for hordes of pedestrians. And children unattended. And dogs on the extreme end of their retractable leashes. And of course the errant 16 year old female texting on her phone and paying absolutely no attention to the surroundings. You can ride it but be prepared to stop often and to move slowly and to be patient. This is emphatically not the route for a roadie trying to get in their fast 50 miler. OTOH, the views are amazing, even if it's a huge and sudden change from the calm and relatively empty miles on the bike path. But it's worth every inch, somewhat like riding over the Golden Gate it's ultimately worth the trip up from Hope

Will try to add more photo's later, the site is limiting me to 2.
well Junction.
I grew up in that area and it is just about my favorite place on the whole planet. I love where I live now but home is home. I get back there about one a year as I have family there.
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Old 04-26-19, 10:15 AM
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The new trail along route 299 from the Walkway Over the Hudson to New Paltz is already paved although not officially open yet. I already rode it a couple of times. It is very flat and smooth. From New Paltz you can ride to Wallkill or Kingston on the Walkill trail, although it is not paved, but I do ride it a lot on 23 mm tires.
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Old 04-26-19, 10:20 AM
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I also prefer riding on the Mid Hudson bridge instead of the Walkway over the Hudson bridge, because there are no people on the Mid Hudson Bridge. The Walkway may be packed with pedestrians on weekends. Also you can listen to the "Bridge Music" on the Mid Hudson Bridge.
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