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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.
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