If you haven’t biked a Hudson Valley rail trail yet, you’re in for a treat. Grades and curves are gentle. The state-of-the-art, 10-foot-wide pulverized stone/asphalt surface whizzes you along through the deep parts of the countryside where trains once whistled, leading you into the towns where they stopped. Best of all, it’s an infinite choose-your-own-adventure where you can opt for a camping trip, a twenty-minute refresher before breakfast, or anything in between. Thanks to railway builders of old and rail trail activists of the last several decades, it’s now possible to ride your bike from The Battery on the tip of Manhattan all the way up to Canada or due west to Buffalo on the 750-mile Empire State Trail.
Longtime Hudson Valley residents will remember seeing folks, beginning in the late-20th century, patiently tabling at festivals, stepping up to the mic at town meetings, and pushing for the conversion of the rail beds to walkways, steadfast and determined. Their big win belongs to all of us now.
Rail trails are stunning—you haven’t lived till you’ve taken in the views from both the Walkway Over the Hudson and the Rosendale Trestle, and the trip from Gardiner to New Paltz is resplendent with view after view of the Shawangunk Ridge.
It’s now possible to ride your bike from The Battery on the tip of Manhattan all the way up to Canada or due west to Buffalo on the 750-mile Empire State Trail. Your bike tires pass where the humming railway wheels once carried milk and cream and lumber and apples, and travelers of every description.
Rail trails teach history. Your bike tires pass where the humming railway wheels once carried milk and cream and lumber and apples, and travelers of every description, off to take in the Catskills air or make their fortunes in the Big Apple. Check out the Hopewell Depot Museum in Hopewell Junction, then bike to lunch on the Poughkeepsie waterfront. Trace the route of the D&H Canal from Kingston to Alligerville.
Rail trails connect downtowns, and in the Hudson Valley downtowns connect to fun. Start the day with an empty saddlebag and go see who’s open for business; you never know what treasures you’ll find or who you’ll meet, and the food and drink are irresistible.
The completion of the Empire State Trail adds major new sections connecting Brewster in Putnam County to Hopewell Junction in Dutchess, the Walkway in Poughkeepsie to New Paltz across the river, and Hudson to East Greenbush, near Albany. The state’s nifty website will connect you to things to do and amenities along each stretch, along with a detailed map. There’s even an app, developed by the NYS Brewers Association, that will tell you what’s on tap within ten miles of the trail. Ride responsibly, and see where the trails will take you.
Empire State Trail