The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail extends more than 20 miles between Gardiner and Kingston along the route of the old Wallkill Valley Railroad, which, in the late 1800s, carried produce from Ulster County farms to New York City, as well as passengers through the Hudson Valley.
The northern section of the trail, stretching 11.5 miles from the Town of Ulster (near the Kingston city line) to Rosendale, opened in June 2013. Its surface is dirt and crushed stone, which can get muddy in wet weather. You can keep abreast of its continuing improvements by visiting the Wallkill Valley Land Trust website (link at right).
In Rosendale, you will come to the trail's most stunning attraction, the Rosendale Trestle, which stands 150 feet above Rondout Creek. The newly restored 940-foot-long bridge is more than 100 years old.
One the southern end of the bridge, when the trail crosses Mountain Road, its surface becomes a mixture of gravel, cinders, grass and dirt. The surrounding landscape is equally mixed. The trail cuts through hillsides, wetlands, forests and fields.
Just after you cross Springtown Road, you'll see another fine example of a steel-truss bridge over placid Wallkill River. South of the bridge, a viewing platform with benches off of the trail encourages enjoyment of the wetland wildlife. For almost 0.25 mile between Plains Road and Broadhead Avenue in New Paltz, the trail is asphalt.
In New Paltz, the trail is adjacent to Huguenot Street, a National Historic Landmark District. At the intersection of the trail and Main Street in New Paltz, a great restaurant occupies the restored former train station. There are shops and additional eateries in New Paltz to tempt trail users.
South of New Paltz, the trail surface returns to gravel and is a little rougher, but before you leave the outskirts of New Paltz, the trail gives you direct access to the Wallkill. The thick tree stand and cool water offer a refreshing dip on a hot summer day. Much of the next 5 miles pass through agricultural landscape and wetlands. The hedges lining the trail can grow high and thick, but every now and then a view of a small farm or field opens up. The trail ends suddenly at Denniston Road at the Gardiner and Shawangunk town line, but it's more convenient to load bikes in the hamlet of Gardiner, which has parking and an excellent ice cream shop on the trail as well.
Future plans call for extending the trail south to the Village of Walden in Orange County.
To access the trail in Rosendale: Travel west on Route 213 (Main Street) and drive under the trestle. Immediately after the trestle you will see Binnewater Road; make a right. Travel a quarter-mile north on Binnewater Road and you will see the Binnewater Kiln parking lot on your left; park and cross the road to access the rail-trail.
To reach the Gardiner trailhead: Take the New Paltz exit off I-87 (New York State Thruway). Turn left on State Route 299/Main Street. In New Paltz, turn left on to State Route 208. Follow this to the intersection of Highway 44/State Route 55 and turn right. Now on Main Street head west into downtown Gardiner, then turn right on 2nd Street. Parking is on the left.