Heritage Trail (aka Orange Heritage Trail) Reviews    

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Monroe extension

By thomas meyer in April, 2014

We rode the trail today and at Airplane Park in Monroe, I was pleasantly surprised to see an extension into the Town of Monroe that is currently cleared, graded, and covered with rolled cinders in apparent preparation for continued pavement. There is also parking adjacent to the extension that will create a preferable Eastern access. Trail users will gain easy access to the main commercial district of Monroe. There are also newly created historical markers along the way done by a local eagle scout that graphical depicts the relatively recently departed Erie- Lackawanna's Rail usage. These are some of the nicest markers I have seen after riding many rail trails!

Easy and flat. Great!

By erezraviv in April, 2014

Took our 9 yr. old twin girls on this trail. It's in excellent condition and very very well kept.

The trail is very flat but there is a very very slight decline going from Airplane park NW. It's nearly imperceptible but it makes going back harder than going to. Keep that in mind so you don't have a hard time going back.

For us it was simple. I left the wife and girls at the trailhead, got back to the car myself, and drove to pick them up. That way we all had fun and I got a good workout :)

Great place to bike!

Worth the drive to ride this trail!

By mystang52 in November, 2013

I live in North Jersey, and drove 45 minutes to ride this trail on my road bike. Great trail! 9 or so miles one way, with only 2 (3?) small street crossings. Great fun and safe ride.

Wonderful Resource

By smokeyblue in October, 2013

As a friend of mine who lives in NYC once told me, "What a wonderful resource to have in your own back yard!" And he is so right! My wife and I have been riding this trail for several years as a fun form of exercise and we thoroughly enjoy it. She does not like riding in traffic so this is perfect for her. This year, on Sundays, a Farmers Market set up shop in Chester right behind the RR Depot Museum. So we'd park in Chester, ride to Monroe, then Goshen and back to Chester and go shopping for some fresh goodies. Exercise and fresh fruit and veggies... what could be better?

Beautiful trail

By joantrivilino in September, 2013

Great for road bikes. I highly recommend this trail and wish I lived closer to it.

A great way to spend a few hours

By cfr17 in June, 2013

Im a avid hiker and wanted to do a new trail but not have to bushwack my way through it. I can honestly say I wish I had been on this trail sooner. I loved it and will return. I did an 8 mile round trip and will be back in next week to try and extend to 10 miles with a plan to do th entire trail in one day by the end of this fall.

Absolutely Love it!

By roarcjw in May, 2013

This was my first experience on a trail. I fell in love immediately. The Orange Heritage Trail was clean, beautiful and quite lengthy. I haven't been excising in a while and was pleasantly surprised by the ambiance. I was there during the Memorial holiday. It was a perfect day and a perfect ride.

No worries as far as parking is concerned, a definite hit from start to finish.

A windy day in April

By night_owl in April, 2013

I've been working in Orange county for just over a month through the tail end of winter. I found the trail on the county map and decided to give it a spin this morning. I drove to Chester and after a misadventure finding the old depot (signs folks, SIGNS!) set out on foot to check out the trail. It is well maintained. There was no way to get lost. The views even on a very blustery mid-April morning were nice. The trail is well used by walkers, bikers, and skaters. Chester Depot is at MP 4.0. At MP 8.5, just west of Monroe, I turned back. I did that segment, 9.0 miles round-trip, in under three hours (2:46 minutes) including time for browsing an old cemetery, chit-chat with other users, and a few photo stops. All in all it was a pleasant time. Within a block of the Chester Depot is an eatery and ice cream shop. Be aware that the depot parking has a three hour limit but I noted that there is other parking nearby that has no limits.

Comfortable

By erkbrgh in August, 2012

My wife and I rode from Airplane Park in Monroe to near Joe Fix Its in Goshen. The distance was 20.1 miles. My wife was looking for an easy relaxing comfortable ride and this is the spot. I normally like to mountain bike and I found this ride enjoyable. We will ride here again. It was paved on our entire route. Oh I parked right in front of Airplane Park, as we were riding away we saw a sign that said parking for Locals and Guests only. Not knowing exactly what the sign meant I left my car there anyways and had no problems when I got back to my car. Another good parking spot would be near the Park and Ride near Orange-Rockland Lake, but use the parking lot near 17M. I saw a sign that said free parking. This might take off a 1/2 mile off your ride round trip. Enjoy!!!

Nice summer walk.

By mstewart47 in August, 2012

I walked this trail for the first time this morning. Started from Crane/Airplane Park in Monroe and walked to the 6-mile marker (about 3 or 3.5 miles from the the park) - the markers start in Goshen. Nice and level, crossing over a few old railroad culverts and under Rt 17. Lots of great scenery with nice views. Lots of old rock walls can be seen in the woods. Most interesting thing I came across was an old 19th century cemetery in the woods near Oxford Depot (between Monroe and Chester). Will definitely be back.

Wide and Smooth

By jc123.cl in June, 2012

I took one of our cars to Village Auto Works and was prepared to ride back to Central Valley via Route 17M, but then one of the guys at the shop mentioned that I can catch the Orange Heritage Trail if I made a left onto Museum Village Road from Route 17M. I turned into what looked like a Park-n-Ride and easily found the trail there. From there it was a super quick ride to the beginning/end of the trail in Monroe. I stopped in at the Monroe Diner for a quick bite and was on my way.

I was really impressed at how well maintained and wide the trail was. Smooth all throughout my ride. I'll be returning real soon to bike the entire length of the trail. This really is a gem.

A Worthwhile Destination

By jmnewsweek in January, 2012

Even on a sub-freezing January day, the Heritage Trail is a pleasant place to ride. The asphalt surface between Monroe and Goshen is in excellent condition and is exceptionally wide. I would have had no difficulty passing three pedestrians walking abreast on my trike -- had there been any pedestrians to pass. And I wasn't starting and stopping for street crossings either. There were only a handful of crossings on the entire trail -- and most of these were little-used country lanes.

The trail connects three small villages located in the foothills of the Catskill mountains. Goshen and Monroe are on hilltops, while Chester Depot is in a valley about mid-way between. The trail grade is gradual -- probably no more than 2 percent -- but beware that the uphill ride from Chester Depot to Monroe is about six miles long with only a couple of brief level reprieves.

Between Chester Depot and Monroe, you'll also find yourself in an upland hardwood forest. In the vicinity of Chester Depot the trail passes alongside several dairy farms and, then, for about two miles on the outskirts of Goshen it runs adjacent to NY 17, a heavily travelled divided highway that is soon to become an Interstate. There are sweeping vistas -- some quite spectacular -- at numerous points along the way.

Goshen, with a well-defined village center, seemed the most interesting of the three villages. Chester Depot had a classic Upstate "town time forgot" feel. What I saw of Monroe was mostly parking lots, strip malls and highway overpasses -- punctuated by several minimally-landscaped parks. There may be more to Monroe, but the Heritage Trail doesn't take you there.

The absence of road crossings is something of a mixed blessing, in that access options are limited. Here's what I observed:

1. There were perhaps three dozen, 24-hour parking spots in the lot adjacent to the Goshen trailhead. The majority of these were empty -- but, hey, it was a weekday in January.

2. Chester Depot seemed to be the best place to park. The trail passes in front of the old rail depot in the center of town. There was a ton of parking and the only active businesses I noticed in the vicinity of the rail depot now a museum) were a sports bar ($2 well drinks for ladies on Tuesday night) and an outdoor clothing store.

3. At Airplane Park in Monroe, there're ample 2-hour parking spaces, plus what appears to be a brand-new commuter parking lot. But you'll need a Google map and the skills of a private detective to find the Heritage Trail.

The trail head is, in fact, at the top of the embankment behind the fighter jet from which the park takes it name. But there are no signs, no paved access, and the Village Fathers have planted evergreen trees along the park boundary so that even in winter, you can't see the trail. I've only visited one other trail head that has been so completely and deliberately concealed.

What's more, if you start at Airplane Park, don't be deceived by the "Bike Route" signs you'll see as you enter the park. Those are for an on-road bike route, and have nothing to do with the Heritage Trail. Follow them, as I did, and you simply end up on the shoulder of a busy highway sucking truck exhaust.

4. Two miles past Airplane Park, the trail bisects a complex of New York State commuter parking lots. On a Thursday, these were filled beyond capacity with every visible space filled and cars left on the grass barriers. On weekends, however, there should be ample parking available.

Bottom line: For mountain bikes and hybrids, there are several vastly more interesting non-paved trails to be found within a 45-minutes drive of the Heritage Trail -- including the immensely popular Minnewaska State Park Preserve near New Paltz. But for skinny tires and trikes, the Heritage Trail is a worthwhile off-road destination with gentle grades, sweeping vistas and several interesting villages to explore.

Good Ride

By mommag in October, 2011

We enjoyed our ride on this trail on September 8, 20011. Weather was gorgeous and the trail was in really good shape. We tried to follow the traillinks directions to the trail head in Goshen, but that was pretty worthless. Ended up parking in Chester, which had ample parking (at least on a Saturday). Traillink directions were pretty good to that spot. Wish I'd reading the post from previous reviewer, Lionel, a little closer to find the trailhead in Goshen (reposting just in case my review knocks him off the bottom of the reviewers list: "If you are new to this trail and parking on the Goshen side, simply go to the center of town where the Presbeterian church is and look for the Berkshire bank. The parking lot for the trail is along the side of it and the trail is right there. A sign is now posted indicating that this is where the trail terminates." Fall colors were nearing full bloom. Not a lot to see on this trail other than the trees, though we did find an old Packard in someone's yard and a cemetery from the mid-1800s right along the trail. Nice benches for resting on the northern part of the trail. Portajohns are placed often enough along the trail. Previous reviewer said the trail continues beyond the 'end of the trail' sign in Goshen, but we didn't find it, so our ride was only 20 miles RT instead of the 23 we thought we'd get. Still, it was a great, ride with just enough variation in grade to make it interesting for a couple old folks on hybrids.

Great ride.....

By aortiz778 in March, 2011

My first time on the trial and I was extremely impressed!!! I started in Monroe and before I knew it I was in Chester. The ride there was awesome! it was I slight downhill all the way there. I coasted all the was. The ride back hurt. It was all uphill, but it was a very slight incline. All in all, between my house, the trial and my return trip I did roughly 25 miles.... Great ride!!!

Benefits if trail would extend to Harriman

By arrowwood in June, 2009

This trail's lack of steep hills and sharp turns were a tremendous help when I was learning how to use in-line skates. I like how the scenery and shading changes from one end to the other, from full sun, into cool, shady woods, and then back into full sun. Some of you may have wondered, as I have, why the trail ends abruptly at Airplane Park in Monroe, and the reasons are many. There were contract issues with Norfolk Southern, who raised the price of the abandoned railway in this section to $1.25 million (source, Times Herald Record), forcing the county to lease this section instead, using federal grant money. There were also issues with people in Harriman, particularly the mayor, not wanting the trail to pass through their village, maybe for privacy reasons, maybe for concern about increased traffic, who knows? So, these major points nonwithstanding, here are some benefits and challenges that I observed when I hiked the unfinished portion from Airplane Park to River Road. Benefits: The trail would pass directly through the center of downtown Monroe, in between Lake Street and Spring Street, and over the railroad tressle (the one that has endeared itself to the community with charming graffiti that reads, "The Loacher" and "Spanky Lives"). This would provide easy access to the trail, easy parking from Millpond Parkway, and increased business for nearby stores selling refreshments and snacks. Slightly further along, the trail comes within easy walking distance from Smith-Clove Park. Trial users could simply walk off the trail near the convenience store across the street from the entrance to the park. After this, the trail passes through dark, shady woods that have been all but forgotten for many years. There are still old, rusty cars alongside the trail here, and assorted trash that would need to be cleaned up, but nothing major. Finally, the trail would terminate at River Road, near Mary Harriman Memorial Park, within moderate walking distance of some small restaurants, and further north, the Home Depot shopping center. Should the trail continue further than River Road, I have no idea what path it would follow, as it would seem to go directly through Nepera chemical property. This would put it very close to Harriman State Park, and once it came within shooting range of HSP, the possibilities are immense. I have read some articles proposing connection to another, future trail paralleling 17 to Suffern called Ramapo River Greenway Trail, which would probably be quite pleasant except for all of the smelly, noisy industrial activity on the southern end. OK, so now for the challenges, starting from Airplane Park. Firstly, the trail seems to disappear in the section of land in between Millpond Parkway and Anderson Place. The lumber yard used the abandoned railway as their own storage space for lumber as well as for assorted debris. This section is also quite swampy, and seems to run into more complications with an apartment complex - is this private land? Smooth sailing through downtown and over the Loacher and Spanky bridge, then possibly some privacy issues with residential properties near Smith-Clove Park, and some drainage and mosquito problems as you approach River Road. Nothing that federal stimulus money couldn't fix. Hint hint!

One forgotten important detail

By lionel700e in March, 2009

I was just reviewing my blog and, with all of my talk about Goshen, I realized that I, as well as everyone else, omitted one important piece of information concerning the trail. If you are new to this trail and parking on the Goshen side, simply go to the center of town where the Presbeterian church is and look for the Berkshire bank. The parking lot for the trail is along the side of it and the trail is right there. A sign is now posted indicating that this is where the trail terminates. As others have noted, just a some blocks away, the trail extends a couple of miles further.

After many returns

By lionel700e in March, 2009

I previously gave a very negative review of the Goshan section of this trail. I continue to stand by that review. Nothing has changed and the 5 corner intersection in the middle of town combined with the zig zaggy nature of the roads leads to some confusion. Especially when a local tells you to go th the center of town, near the church (there are several) and take a left. With 5 intersecting roads, there are 2 possible lefts. At least I now know the area from experience--but as others, I AVOID THE HERITAGE SECTION NORTH OF GOSHEN LIKE THE PLAGUE AND ASSERT THAT THE TOWN SHOULD PROVIDE AMPLE ACCESS AND EGRESS AS WELL AS GOOD DIRECTIONS THROUGH THE TOWN TO THE CONTINUATION OF THE TRAIL.

The good part is that from Goshen to Monroe is a beautifull and easy ride which passes the Erie RR museum, open from 11:00 am until 1:00pm every saturday during the warm months. Although I am used to more agressive cycle trips which include actual hills, this is a pleasant ride over rr bridges, through the shade of overhanging trees, a cooling rest at an old cemetary right at trailside, and a stop at the Burger King in Monroe (also soft ice cream) before heading back to Goshen.

On the way back, there is a great ice cream shop in Chester, near the Erie RR museum, and you can end the trip with a great lunch or dinner in any one of a number of nice restaurants in Goshen.

If you are a cyclist with a date who is not, this may be a great choice for their first trip--or for a family outing--or, like me, just for something pleasent to do on a saturday morning which is better than vegging in front of TV.

Have a nice one.

Great trail

By geoff11 in September, 2008

This is a trail my wife and i ride many nites of the week. The trail starts in Gohsen off of south st. It goes on for 9 miles into Monroe NY, @ airplane park. At this point there is a nice lake, that a complete ride around will add another mile to the trip. Monroe has a couple of nice little shops and eateries to rest and relax. The trail is paved and very easy to ride on. Only a few intersections with auto traffic, which makes it very safe for families. Very flat and shaded on sunny days with some open sunny spots. Chester is 3.5 miles outside of Goshen and has a old train station there to rest. Chester has a little town w/ icecream shop only 200 yards away from the train station. Great place to ride!!

Orange Heritage Trail

By RICHTRAIN in July, 2008

First time on this trail Rode the whole distance from start to finish and back. Nice trail hardley any inclines
at all very nice trail to ride took about an 1 1/2 hrs their and back. some nice sites along the way met some nice people while riding this trail. Even saw a lady Orange County Sheriff's Dept Officer Riding. This will be a trail i will see more of.

Thx Rails to trails. Richy Procter (Stony Point, N.Y.

Middletown

By mudrug588 in July, 2008

This really is a great trail at points, and it definitely needs to extend to Middletown!!

Trail severed at Goshen

By dscheef in October, 2007

"Rode the west end (the unpaved section) and it is now closed at the Route 17 overpass. Prior to this, as others reviews note, it was difficult to get through. However, is was possible to get through -- one needed to open a gate at a small apartment complex. It required following one's nose a little, and a little luck. A resident of these apartments tipped me off after noticing the odd look on my face, I guess). This is obviously not the best trail design.

Hopefully, a simpler, more perminent, and user-friendly solution is in the works. It would be dissapointing to see the train severed perminently. Rather, the trail should be extended into Middletown."

Good news

By in November, 2006

"This is a great trail but I seldom use it because of the homeless shelter located on the trail and the people from the shelter who use the trail, especially since a few years ago when that woman was attacked by a resident of the shelter and we found out they were sending convicted felons there while they were on parole.
The shelter is now scheduled to close in June and I look forward to using the trail again."

"Trail great, Goshen BAD"

By lionel700e in August, 2006

"I cycled from Hartley road, expecting to be able to continue through Goshen with little trouble. There is now no way to continue to Goshen without trespassing onto private property. There have been land purchases and the trail is oblitterated. Having finally gotten onto a public road it seemed that no one could give coherent directions to where I should reconnect with the trail. There are a lot of places here where ""Take a left"" could mean one of two choices due to a 5 point intersection and irregularly run streets. Although there are a couple of ""Bike Route"" signs, they may refer to another trail or there are some missing because there were none directing me from one trail terminus, through town to the other. When I finally found the Erie RR clearing the cycling was beautifull and I made it only to Chester due to time lose in Goshen. There is much beauty to be seen along this trail and I highly recommend it. I highly recommend the bike shop in town (Joe Fix-it--or something like that). They will give cyclers great directions and will discuss the trail problems. They are great! I am planning to return to this trail in a couple of weeks better prepared to negotiate Goshen.
I have been told by one nice old gentleman that the trail, he thinks, now goes past Monroe towards Tuxcedo--I should have asked at the bike shop.

I wish you well--and when lost in Goshen, look up the bike shop."

Heritage Trail

By in September, 2004

"I rode the Orange Heritage Trail for the first time last weekend and although it was a nice level paved path, it was pretty crowded and there wasn't a lot of shade. Save it for a cool fall day. If you ride into Chester, the old train station has been converted into a small museum. Definitely check it out, it's interesting and the volunteers are very friendly and knowledgeable."

Amazing outdoor experience

By in May, 2004

"It was our first time on the trail this weekend. It was amazing. The trail is relatively flat the whole way and has an ideal design for bikers and runners. For those runners training for a long race who need to pack in miles without the worry of traffic and killer hills, this is ideal! "

Freedom

By in November, 2003

It is the freedom of enjoying unexploited stretches of woods and open fields that makes any rail-trail golden.

Nice but congested

By john4 in July, 2003

"This is a nice paved, suburban trail, although the trail is crowded with lots users who never got the ""On your left lesson."" They stop in the middle of the trail without warning. They ride two and three abreast, some on the wrong side of the trail. Joggers move from side to side. There is a trail opening at Chester Station where five women riding together stopped to chat. A gentleman had to go over and literally tell them to clear the opening and to get off the trail so others could pass. They became indignant.

The usual rules of any trail should be posted. It's nice to see a well used trail, but save this one for a day off during the week.

**ADDITIONAL NOTE**
I road this trail again on Sunday, March 21, 2004, starting at 1:15 p.m. I was the only rider for 20 miles. I did see five walkers. I also saw deer, great blue heron, hawks and cows (can't forget them). It was a very pleasant ride for early in the year."

Easy with lots of views

By in June, 2003

"Finding the opening to the trail in Goshen wasn't easy but if you ask a local, they'll point you in the right direction. This trail is easy with a little upgrade that's even easy on the kids. Also, if you get hungry there's a pizza and ice cream parlor smack in the middle of the trail."

Summer 2002

By in August, 2002

"Excellent Trail, snack bar on trail, emergency call boxes, gentle grade, free air in Chester @ outlet store, plenty of parking, top maintenance, Sheriffs bike patrol, could not find the unpaved mile in Goshen so expect a 9 mile trail. NYC sattelite homeless shelter nearby, do not let it disuade or scare you. NYCHPD provide an additional Patrol and everyone says hello. "

"If you build it, they will come!"

By njrailwalker in March, 2002

"This is an excellent trail with plenty of free parking at many strategic points. In-line skaters, walkers, runners, joggers, bikers, and (rarely it seems) cross country skiers will enjoy this well maintained, patrolled asphalt trail. The trail is not level, having a number of rolling grades along the route. It features mileage markers, road crossing signs and scattered benches. You will never find this trail devoid of people, almost all of whom are friendly! Chester and Goshen are villages worth exploring along the route. Mid summer can be a bit unpleasant, since large sections are unshaded, but between Chester and Goshen there is even an ice cream stand right on the edge of the trail.

Rates an 8 out of 10!

-Fred"

Spring 2001 Review

By railtrailbiker in May, 2001

"This is a wonderful trail with plenty of free parking available at many points along the route.

In line skaters will enjoy the well maintained asphalt surface as will road bikers and parents with strollers.

Ninety percent of the surface is paved. However, there is a short unpaved segment which is relatively difficult to find unless you know where to look (it begins in Goshen along Railroad Avenue behind the Senior Citizens' building).

There is a slight uphill grade from south to north on the paved segment.

Most parking is near exit 129 of Interstate 86; follow signs for Museum Village and you can't miss it.

E-mail for further particulars if interested. Worth driving a distance for."