The Dutchess Rail Trail is a local treasure in the Hudson Valley region of New York, and for good reason: the 13-mile trail runs through what seems like a perpetually green landscape of dense tree cover, linking Poughkeepsie at the Hudson River with smaller towns to its southeast. The entire length of the trail, including the filling in of two significant gaps, was completed in October 2013. Now, a massive bridge—entirely funded by the New York Department of Transportation—spans busy State Route 55, Old Manchester Road and Wappinger Creek in the town of LaGrange.
In the north, the Dutchess Rail Trail begins at a shared parking lot with the Walkway Over The Hudson off Parker Avenue/State Route 9G in Poughkeepsie. The stunning converted railroad trestle takes trail users over the Hudson River and leads directly to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County. All told, a trip on the three trails is a combined 18 miles one-way.
Traveling east from Poughkeepsie utilizes a newer section of the Dutchess Rail Trail, completed in September 2013. This portion passes a large golf course and Morgan Lake Park. The park was the former western terminus of the trail and is a popular spot for fishing. After Morgan Lake, the trail begins to turn south, running through the communities of Arlington and LaGrange, and skirting the eastern edge of Red Oak Mills. This section includes the colossal bridge over SR 55, but the entire length of the trail features a mixture of new bridges and converted railroad trestles and tunnels.
After winding through the towns of Wappinger and East Fishkill, the trail ends in the southeast just past the restored Hopewell Depot in Hopewell Junction. The museum that now occupies the former train station is well worth a visit, with a small photo gallery and plenty of information about the trail, local railroad history and area attractions.
To access the Dutchess Rail Trail, you can park at the following locations:
Overocker Road: If you're heading east on US 44/SR 55 from the Mid-Hudson Bridge, bear left where the routes split to remain on US 44. Proceed 0.6 mile to Peckham Road and turn right. Continue 0.2 mile to Overocker Road and turn right; parking is on the left.
If you're heading west on US 44 from the Taconic State Parkway, continue for 8.5 miles to Peckham Road and turn left. Continue 0.2 mile to Overocker Road and then turn right; parking is on the left.
Creek Road/Morgan Lake Park: From the intersection of Pendell Road and Creek Road (Dutchess Community College Campus) travel south 0.5 mile; parking is on the right by Morgan Lake.
Additional parking lots are available along the trail’s route at nearly every major road intersection.