Located in the mid-Hudson Valley is a remarkable trail that is picturesque and family friendly. This flat, paved Hudson Valley Trail stretches nearly 4 miles through hardwood forests, over Black Creek and under two spectacular stone-arch bridges. The trail stretches between the towns of Highland and Lloyd on the former right-of-way of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Ulster County acquired the line when the railroad went bankrupt then deeded the section from the Hudson River to Route 299 to the town of Lloyd.
The corridor sat vacant until the town sold an easement for the installation of a fiber optic cable along the unused line. With funding in place, the citizens of Lloyd and members of the Highland Rotary Club prepared for trail development by clearing the right-of-way of brush and debris. Some of the old railroad signal structures were left to provide a link to the corridor's past. In 1997 the first section of trail was opened.
From Tony Williams Park in Lloyd the trail heads east though a wooded canopy. Less than 0.5 mile from the park, the trail crosses over Black Creek, which is a popular spot with kayakers and canoeists. Close to mile 1, the trail runs along a rock cut. In the spring, graceful columbine plants sprout out of the cracks in the rock. The cut provides a cool spot to stop and relax on hot summer days.
At the trail's midpoint two magnificent arched bridges carry New Paltz Road over the corridor. Next up is the Highland Rotary Pavilion. The Highland Rotary Club has made the Hudson Valley Rail Trail a primary project for more than a decade. The pavilion has restrooms, a large parking lot, a fully restored caboose, picnic tables and water.
As you move east and south, trailside exercise stations let you test your endurance and strength. You are now nearing the hamlet of Highland with residential neighborhoods on a less heavily wooded trail. There's a new pedestrian Bridge over Vineyard Avenue and the trail makes its way through a greenway corridor among an urban landscape.
At Bridge Road, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail meets up with the fantastic Walkway Over the Hudson, traversing the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge 212 feet high across the Hudson River. Once on the east side of the river, travelers can also make a seamless connection to the Dutchess County Rail Trail to continue riding another 13 miles from Poughkeepsie to Hopewell Junction.
Construction on the next phase of the trail is set to begin in summer 2015. The extension will continue the trail 0.7 miles west from Tony Williams Town Park in Lloyd to New Paltz Road.
To reach the Tony Williams Park in Lloyd: From the New York State Thruway, take Exit 18 for Poughkeepsie and New Paltz. At the traffic light at the end of the exit, turn right onto State Route 299 East and go 2.3 miles. Turn right onto New Paltz Road and go 0.7 mile. Turn left onto South Riverside Road; after 0.1 mile turn right into Tony Williams Park. Parking is to the left by the start of the rail-trail.
To reach the Highland Rotary Pavilion in Highland, take State Route 9W to State Route 299 West toward New Paltz. Turn left onto South Chodikee Lake Road. At the end of Chodikee Lake Road, turn right onto New Paltz Road. The parking area for the pavilion is on the left.
There is also a relatively new parking area on Haviland Road at the eastern end. For more information, contact:
Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association
12 Church Street
Highland, NY 12528