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The Delaware and Hudson Rail-Trail follows the flowing contours of the western Vermont countryside, rambling in and out of New York state, where you’ll find a 4-mile gap. This border area is known as the Slate Valley for the quarrying industry that has been active here since the 1830s. The nearly 26-mile trail connects with Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express in Castleton.
The trail traces the railbed laid by the Rutland and Washington Railroad in the 1850s to serve the slate quarries that mined the sheets of rock used primarily as roofing material. By 1871 foreclosures and mergers led to the Delaware & Hudson Railroad (D&H) leasing the line, which by now was known as the Slate Picker. Improvements in highways and truck transportation led to the eventual demise of the line in 1983.
The Vermont portion was developed into a rail-trail in the late 1980s, leaving a 4-mile gap between East Granville, New York, and a farm field near the state line. Long-range plans requiring acquisitions of private land are under way to finish the route in New York.
The trail welcomes walkers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders in warmer weather and snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers in the winter.
To explore the northern section, start at the trailhead across the street from the Amtrak Castleton Station, which dates to 1850. Castleton was first settled in the 1770s and saw action during the Revolutionary War. You’ll pass through the Castleton University campus before entering farmland and pockets of hardwood trees. In about 8 miles, you’ll arrive on the sleepy downtown streets of Poultney, home to Green Mountain College. Leaving town, the trail ends just over the state line in a farm field.
The southern section of trail begins on Depot Street in Middle Granville, New York, and heads southeast past a dairy farm and airport to Granville, New York, in 2.5 miles. The D&H railroad depot at the trailhead serves as a bed-and-breakfast today.
As the hub of slate quarrying in this area, the town hosts the Slate Valley Museum at 17 Water Street, just a block from the trailhead. You’ll learn about the history of slate quarrying here, as well as the cultural changes foisted on the town by the arrival of Welsh miners in the 19th century. Although slate usually comes in basic gray, the local slate is desirable for its array of hues, such as green, purple, and red.
Crossing a bridge over the Mettawee River and skirting a furniture factory, the trail crosses back into Vermont about 2.5 miles past the Granville trailhead and arrives in West Pawlet 1.5 miles later. A quarry looms over the east side of town.
The forest opens up a bit south of town and offers sweeping views of the surrounding hills and countryside. Don’t be surprised to see deer all along this trail. After passing a parking area outside the small village of West Rupert, the trail continues only 0.5 mile farther before reaching its southern terminus at the state border.
To reach the northern trailhead in Castleton, Vermont, from I-89, take Exit 1 toward Rutland on US 4. Turn left (southwest) on US 4, and go 9.8 miles. Turn left to stay on US 4, and go another 30.9 miles. In Rutland, turn left again to remain on US 4, and go 2.2 miles. Turn right onto US 4, and continue another 10.7 miles. Take Exit 5 toward Castleton. Turn left (heading south) onto E. Hubbardton Road, go 0.4 mile, then turn right onto VT 4A/Main St. Go 0.7 mile, and turn left onto Seminary St. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right into the visitor parking area. At the end of the lot, you’ll find a row of spaces for trail users; the trail passes the lot. The endpoint is located 0.6 mile north along the trail.
To reach the trailhead in Granville, New York, from I-87, take Exit 17N to US 9 N toward South Glens Falls. Merge onto US 9 N, go 1.7 miles, and turn right onto NY 197/Reynolds Road. Go 4.7 miles, and turn right onto NY 197 E/US 4 S. Go 0.4 mile, then turn left to stay on NY 197 E/Argyle St. Go 2.1 miles (remain on NY 197 by turning right where Argyle St. becomes Baldwin Ave.), and turn left onto County Road 42. Then go 2.8 miles, and turn right onto NY 196. Go 7.7 miles, and turn left onto NY 40. In 1.6 miles, turn right onto NY 149. Go 7.6 miles, and turn left to stay on NY 149/Quaker St. Go 0.8 mile and bear right to stay on NY 149/Main St. The trailhead and parking are 0.3 mile ahead on the right.
To reach the trailhead in West Rupert, Vermont, from I-91, take Exit 2, and turn left onto VT 9 heading east toward Brattleboro. Go 1.1 miles, and turn left onto VT 30/US 5/Main St. Go 0.3 mile, and turn left to stay on VT 30/Park Pl. Go 0.1 mile, and turn right to stay on VT 30/Linden St. In 38.5 miles in Peru, Vermont, turn left to remain on VT 30/VT 11. Go 6.4 miles, turn right onto Main St./VT 7A, and then immediately turn left onto VT 30/Bonnet St. Go 8.1 miles, then turn left onto VT 315. Go 8.7 miles (VT 315 becomes VT 153). Go 2.3 miles, then turn right onto Hebron Cross Road. Look for a small parking lot on the right in 0.2 mile. The endpoint is located 0.5 mile south along the trail.
5/28/2017 The trail begins near the former Middle Granville NY Depot on Depot St. Does not appear to be trail head parking at this point but you may be able to leave a car near the business occupying the former depot.
Very shortly down the trail it gets a little confusing as the "trail" goes through a dairy farm. Today that hilly portion was not bike friendly with mud and puddles and deep ruts so I took a short detour to the nearby road and around the farm back to the trail.
The trail from there to the Granville town center was fine with a mix of grass and crushed cinder. The trail passes a bed and breakfast in town (trail parking here) and then it is mostly crushed cinder and good going to the Vermont state line.
From the NY/VT line to West Pawlet again a mix of grass and crushed cinder. A little less than 7 miles from Middle Granville to West Pawlet. There is trail parking at West Pawlet near the intersection of 153 and Egg St. I finished the trail here but it continues for 9.5 miles to West Rupert.
Previous reviews had mentioned a dog problem in the VT section after leaving NY (going south) or approaching the NY state line (going north). There were loud barking dog(s) in this area but they did not impinge on the trail. I could not see through the brush to determine if they were leashed of penned.
I had done the two Vermont parts so I wanted to do the New York section starting in Granville. It was every thing the reviews said it would be. My wife drove shuttle so I only had to go one way. It was a bit uphill from NY to Vt. Smooth surface, nicely shaded, no problems. The actual start in Granville is not clear. I started one street connection above the old Depot where there was a sign. The trail continued farther but I did not find a road connection. Youker
I bike this trail a lot - always from the Rupert end where there is good parking right next to the trail.
The trail features a variety of different surfaces, but it very bike-able and not the trial that others have said that it is. You're biking off-road - don't expect pavement! It's dirt lanes w/ grass between, or some stone improvements in some wetter areas, some a bit more grassy than anything else, but completely doable. Really is actually quite a pleasure!
This ride is a good long one. I almost always ride into Granville NY past the VT. terminus on the South end, and have lunch in Granville, then return the same way, or catch Rt. 153 in West Pawlet and ride almost all the way back to the parking area, jumping back onto the rail trail at a spot that's open right next to the road, near a swamp.
When riding this trail you're almost always alone with your thoughts - you DO see others but it's not the highway that other trails can be. It's a country trail bisecting fields, paralleling a stream for a good portion of the ride, cow pastures, some old 'urban' decay near West Pawlet and Granville, but it's completely scenic, quiet, and easily ridden. There's a lane leading up to Consider Bardwell Cheese Farm - I take lunch, eat there on the wall in front of the barn, then buy some cheese to take home in my pack. GREAT place to explore - the goats are just so funny!
The trail features gates to keep 4 wheelers/snowmobiles out, but there are sufficient openings that allow a biker to ride right around them without having to dismount at all. You cross Rt. 153 a couple times, but there's never any traffic - you're really in the middle of nowhere!
In a nutshell, this is a GREAT ride, and one that you should take in all biking seasons - the Fall is especially beautiful, but even in Summer when it's hot the canopy over many parts of this trail keep you cool. Bring plenty of H2O - it's a long ride, but well worth it.
I biked the VT section and 2 miles into the NY section. I rode a 21 speed hybrid in top gear most of the time. Not a fast surface, but very manageable on a hybrid. The trail is well maintained and it was clear that it is mowed. South of Poultney there's more grass. The trail seems busier north of Poultney and sometimes single, sometimes double trails are kept grass free by the traffic. I encountered just 1 fairly busy road crossing. The trail is very accessible at most crossings; look for the "no motorized vehicles" signs. The road intersections are well marked with single-file bike access barriers. Very flat and family friendly. Mile markers and bench seats are regularly spaced.
I rated this 3 for trail surface, which is a combination of narrow to wider cinder track, dirt path between grass sides and center or leaves and grass. We have hybrids and would not recommend doing it on anything narrower. It was slow going.
HOWEVER, I'd rate it a 5 for scenery. (This also affected our speed!) It is just BEAUTIFUL! We rode on a mid 60 degree day with clear blue sky and puffy white clouds which made every color of field, farm, flower, tree and stream stand out.
Definitely worth doing but just know what you're getting into!
We rode this trail Wednesday, August 6th 2014, and found it somewhat different than many of the reviews here.
We started at the absolute beginning of the New York piece, which is on Depot Street in what I believe is Middle Danville. Most note the trail starts in downtown Danville, but in fact starts on Depot Street, right across the street from the old D&H depot, which still stands.
Someone noted a confusing junction somewhere on the trail in Danville, but we did not find this. In fact, the trail through the complete NY piece was exceptionally well marked and clearly could be seen as a trail. If there is one area that might confuse some it would be the piece that goes through a cow farm, kind of different, but again there were multiple signs to let you know which way the trail went through this farm.
We actually found the New York piece to be the nicer of the southern ride. The trail has better surface to ride on than the Vermont piece, crushed aggregate versus grass. As well, you get to go through parts of town to get a feel for living in that area.
The New York piece, starting at the absolute beginning, is 6 to 6.5 miles long, and well worth the ride.
Once we crossed over into Vermont, the signage changed to mile markers, still well marked, but the trail is probably used much less so we ended up biking on grass and occasional dirt/mud patches, a much harder ride. We ended up riding to the mile 6 marker before turning around as the trail was starting to feel more like a chore to keep a decent speed than riding on aggregate is.
All in all, the ride was very pleasant, well marked, and had we more time and energy, we would have risen to the end of the southern section.
I would recommend this trail, especially the New York piece.
The 7.5 miles beginning at Castleton State College to Poultney, VT was a pleasant ride with the trail maintained. The last 1.5 miles was not as well maintained, but OK.
On the NY side, we began riding in Granville and mistakenly went north,which would have taken us to the actual beginning of the trail. There was one tricky junction that was poorly marked. Turning around to head south, the trail was minimally maintained for just over 6 miles when it abruptly ended in Middle Granville, NY.
Yes we road the trail June 20th and were chased by the same dogs. Trail needs maintained we rod back on the road.
We rode the north end of the north trail, about 16 miles. It was a very hot day, the leaf covered portions of the trail were refreshing. The trail is very flat, easy to ride. It had no major scenic views, but was still a good ride.
My family of 2 adults, 2 kids parked at the "trail head" in West Pawlet on 4/27/2013 and headed north on bikes, to check out the short bit up to the northern end of that Southern half of the two part rail trail. About 1.25 miles north from West Pawlet (there are sign posts) there are some houses on the Granville, NY side. Two unattended brown dogs approached our family wagging and barking; one of them bit me hard on the thigh as I pedaled. We are in the process of ID'ing the dog through dog wardens but it has not yet been resolved. If anyone is on that section this Spring and encounters a brown dog (pit pull or pit bull mix?) do not approach!
Hybrid bike would be fine. A good short ride. Use bathroom facilities at Castleton State College.
I just wanted to note that when you click on "view map" it shows a parking symbol for the bridge at Cross Rd but not one for the large parking area, complete with a large trailhead-type sign, at the intersection of Rte 153 and Hebron Rd about 0.5 miles to the north. I know it says this in the description but if someone just goes by the map when planning to park, it can be misleading.
My wife and I rode both sections of the D&H out and back in mid-August and enjoyed the beautiful Vermont scenery along this former rail line. For the southern section we started in the center of Granville, NY, using public parking where the trail crosses Main St. This starting point is farther north and much nicer than the end point depicted on the TrailLink map. The trail is easy to follow as you proceed south through Granville, over a new river bridge and past freight buildings, with a short detour on grass and a gravel road past a slate business and around a factory built over the former right-of-way. Regaining the rail bed after a half mile or so, the trail becomes a scenic tour through Vermont farmland toward West Pawlet. We highly recommend a stop at the Consider Bardwell Farm, marked with a small sign on the east side just before crossing Sawmill Rd., about two miles south of the village of West Pawlet. They have a small store with homemade cheeses and other treats and a working goat farm. The herd of young goats was very entertaining! The height of land is reached just north of the sweeping bend in West Rupert. The rest of the trail to the NY state line is pretty, through farmland and past the old Rupert depot.
The next day we rode the northern section, parking in the big lot at Castleton State College. We wanted to start at Route 4A near the Amtrak station and include the northernmost half mile, but there was no public place to park. If you look carefully you'll see the old wye on the left soon after starting the trail south from the college. The trail is a pleasant, easy to ride single or double-track grass/cinder path south to Poultney. In the village we found several small cafes as lunch options. Continuing south, the trail becomes overgrown with tall grass at the slate mine, then ends abruptly after a short piece on the mine access road. We had wanted to continue south to Granville, but the rail line was impassible past the state line so we turned around and rode back to Castleton.
I did both sections in August 2008. Very nice trail. The southern section is gradual uphill from West Pawlet to Rupert so starting from Rupert would be easier. The trail is slightly down hill from Rupert to a bit south of West Rupert at the state line. There is a dirt road over to the trail about a half mile above the NY border. There is a nice simming hole in the creek at the road and trail. Boith sections run along nice little creeks. The trail was flooded just north of Rupert, but it was easy to detour to the highway.
We set out yesterday to explore the trail in NY between these two town because we had heard conflicting reports about if you could bike this section. Heading north out of West Pawlet to almost Granville the trail is about the same condition as south for about 3 miles to the town of Granville. It opens into some industrial area there and you will have to turn left to Church st. and then right into downtown Granville. After you cross the river you will shortly reach a light in town and here you have to make a left down to the finished compacte stone section in Granville. A right turn takes you onto a 1/2 mile section of compacted stone. After you cross Rt.22 again it gets progressively more brushy and narrow and ends in a barn yard. You can go around the barn and cows to Rt.22 for a short distance but here it is so dense and the brush closed in not much fun riding and after Fox Road the old Row has been swoll up in corn fields till after Raceville. You can take a left to Rt.22 to Poultney or a right on Fox road and withing 100 yard a left on an unmarked tar road that follows the row on the east to raceville in about 2 1/2 miles. Out of Pultney the trail is nice for about 2 miles then starts to get grassy and unmowed. You could follow a farm road thru the fields between here and Rt. 22 but it is posted. This is in the middle of two slate rock quaries.
Surprises are in store for you when you near the Castleton State college playing fields walking north on the trail. Before you get to North Road on the left are two entrances to the cross country trails clearly marked with slate chips. They wind and meander through beautiful woodlands and swamp. All the trails circle around and loop together, there are little bridges and streams, a pond and even a deep hidden gorge with rushing water and a bridge over it to look down. My husband and I took the dog for a walk Mother's Day and after walking the lovely placid Rail to Trail ( for 12 years ) we discovered this maze of trails. Great fun!
Started about a mile from the NY line in West Rupert at the post office as it seemed to have the best parking and headed north just as the rain started. It was slightly up hill for about half the trip to west Pawlet. The surface was two tracks of cinders and dry until it really started to pour. We turned around in West Pawlet at a small store that was under renovation. It would have been nice to have a sandwich and soda here but the owners hope to re open next week. They nicely gave my friend a garbage bag to keep him warm for the return trip. We jumped off on the road for most of the return trip because of the water and heavy rail. I enjoyed the ride and saw a lot of birds in spite of the rain and will return to finish the north section soon. Trail surface is in good condition and most of this section was mowed not too long ago.
"May 2006: As a family of 5 (kids are 7, 5 & 2), new to the sport, and we found this trail enjoyable. My wife and I ride hybrids; one with a tag-a-long for the 5 yo. and one with a seat for the 2 yo while the 7 yo rides a 14"" Disney Princess special. We manage the trail surface well although the edges in spots can be loose and dangerous for young riders. We departed Poultney and headed toward Castleton. We only managed about 5 miles but the scenery and wild life were beautiful. Any ""birders"" should pack their glasses and guide. Although unprepared for this extra treat we were still able to identify a Black-throated Blue Warbler. We can't wait until this trail is developed a little more to connect with Granville, NY."
"A good place to start is along Route 315 just over the border from Salem/E. Greewich, NY; a small business in West Rupert allowed me to park close to the trail with a smile. The surface is coarse and rough rock, which is good for a mountain bike but (thank goodness!) not appropriate for the spandex race-biker.
The course is typical Vermont, lovely and bucolic; along the way, two dogs cme out to visit Buster (my Dalmatian constant companion). A wild afternoon torrent of rain didn't spoil; another kind business owner gave us a chair while the skies opened up. On the way back the skies cleared, ending a perfect walk. "
"Nice ride, straight as the eye can see. Quiet, peaceful setting. Perfect for families looking for a nice day out. "
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