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Harlem Valley Rail Trail provides a scenic ride through rolling farm fields and dense woods on the bed of the New York and Harlem Railroad that ran from New York City to Chatham. The rail-trail is being built in segments, and there is still work to be done to open all 46 miles of the planned trail. For now, you can enjoy three disconnected segments, which total just over 17 miles.
The southern end of the trail begins at the Metro North Railroad Station in Wassaic. It is possible, during non-rush hours and on weekends, to board a Metro North train in Grand Central Station and in a little more than two hours be peddling or walking along this rail-trail. As the paved trail winds north for nearly 11 miles to Millerton, it passes through a pastoral scene. Farmland stretches before and around you, followed by red-cedar scrubland and beaver ponds. In Amenia, the trailhead parking lot is on the site of the former Barton House, a large hotel that was frequented by business people and vacationers traveling from New York City.
Several railroad stations on this line have been restored: Sharon Station is now a private residence located off the trail in the town of North East. Millerton's three stations have been restored and today house local businesses. North of Coleman Station the trail crosses six reconstructed railroad bridges.
The railroad builders tamed the area's rolling terrain, and created a level corridor, by blasting through rock and building the rail bed up from the land adjacent to the corridor for a "pyramiding" effect. In several stretches, north of Route 61, the trail's higher elevation on steep embankments—in some places dropping 50 feet—provides spectacular views of the surrounding farmland. Indian Mountain, straddling the border of New York and Connecticut, is to the east. Traveling through a series of deep rock cuts, you will feel the temperature drop several degrees from the surrounding landscape.
Millerton is the current end of the first section of rail-trail. In Millerton, two restored train stations that appear to have changed little since their original construction in 1851 and 1912 flank the trail. A third station, once used for freight, stands nearby. All house local businesses today. The village offers ample opportunities for refreshment and shopping.
The next 8 miles of the railroad corridor between Main Street in Millerton and Under Mountain Road in Ancram are not open for public use.
Reaching the next open trail section requires a detour on a two-lane road. Head west on Main Street in Millerton and then north on New York State Route 22 for about 7.7 miles. Turn right on Under Mountain Road and look for the trailhead on the left. The 5.2-mile paved section of trail travels from Under Mountain Road, through Taconic State Park and Copake Falls, to Orphan Farm Road. This section is more wooded where the trail hugs the base of the South Taconic Mountains.
The newest completed and open section of the trail lies further north in Hillsdale, stretching from Black Grocery Road to Anthony Road. The segment is 1.5 miles and has a crushed stone surface, well-suited for mountain biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing.
To reach the Wassaic trailhead: From I-84 or I-684, take State Route 22 north at Brewster. Continue north on Route 22 to the Wassaic Station of the Metro North Railroad. The station is on the right side of the road.
To reach the Taconic State Park Trailhead: From I-84 or I-684, take State Route 22 north to Brewster. Continue north on Route 22 to State Route 344, about 6 miles north of Millerton. Turn right and proceed about 0.5 mile to the triangular green. Bear to the left to the stop sign. Proceed straight about 0.3 mile to the entrance of Taconic State Park; ask the attendant where to park.
The trail is being expanded and paved for approximately 1.2 miles north from Copake Falls to Orphan Farms Road. It deviates a bit off the old ROW as it curves around a field.
My friend and I used the rail trail as part of a 60-mile ride from the Wassaic train station to Bash Bish Falls and back. Cue sheets can be found online for this ride (Harlem Valley Rail to Trail to Falls). The scenery is beautiful along the way. The HVRT afforded a nice rest (flat surface), compared to the road portion of our trip, which was quite hilly. There are no markings in the northern section (Copake Falls) for where the trail picks up after the first break. You have to take a right and ride on a gravel road for approximately one-quarter mile. The HVRT picks up on the left, right before a hill. (Note: the hilltop provides a beautiful vista). Plenty of parking is available and free at the train station on the weekend.
We rode this trail twice. Once out of Copake Lake for a few miles south before bad weather turned us around and again north from Wassaic to Millerton and back. It's a very scenic trail, flat with paved pathways. We often camp at Taghanic State Park and so the towns in the area are known to us. Millerton is a great place to stop, walk around and have a meal or snack before heading back. We did this on a brisk fall day during the week and felt like we had the trail to ourselves. Really a nice ride. Highly recommended. Can't wait till the northern extension is completed.
I walked this trail today from Amenia to Millerton and back. I started with a latte at Cozy Corner Café & Tap Room, Inc., and ended back there for a Cozy Corner Burger. A perfect start and end. The walk was gorgeous, but being just about the only person not on a bike, the bugs were all on me - take bug spray. I bought some in Millerton at (I think) Terni's, for the walk back, and it worked a treat. I'm not a flowers or birds person but the range of color and sound was incredible. Definitely worth the trip.
My wife and I drove 100 miles to ride this trail this August 2013 weekend, and it was worth it. The only thing that would have made it better would be if it was longer. We parked at the Wassaic station and rode north. The path is smooth and flat, well shaded and well maintained. THe trail is bordered by wildflowers, streams and ponds, and you can see horses, llama, chipmunks, and birds. There are vistas of corn fields with hills in the distance, picturesque red barns, a stretch of trail blasted through stone. My wife wanted to stop every two minutes to photograph the scenery. At Millerton there are lots of good places to eat and interesting shops to check out. I was sorry when we reached Wassaic again and the ride was over.
Starting from the Wassaic train station, where the trail begins, is a nice flat ride. Can ride all the way to Millerton. In Millerton there are restaurants, a diner, and an ice cream shop. There are a couple of antique shops, a bike shop, and an old fashion department store, Sapersteins. A family can make an entire day of it! The entire ride is 23 miles round trip. Enjoy!
My husband and I parked in Amenia at the Rail Trail lot and biked 10 miles up to Millerton. With foliage full, only occasional views of countryside showed. But the trail was also a cool tunnel on a 90-degree day. Bugs are plentiful, so use repellent. Three flew in my eye.
Near Millerton in the middle of the woods is a series of three small houses, rustic, gate-size, and elegant facaded, which surround a small pen with long-horn bulls and a llama. A river rushes past on the far side. Charming and unexpected.
Millerton is a very appealing town, with the original Saperstein's clothing store carrying styles from the '50s, it seems, as well as New Age eateries and artsy shops.
We dallied about 15 minutes, then rode back to our car in Amenia. Whole trip took 1:40.
Then we drove up to Bash Bish Falls in Copake, took a dip along the trail to cool off, and headed home to CT, stopping at McEnroe's organic farm (on a hill on the right, between Millerton and Amenia) for egg salad, strawberries and Harney's apple juice. Yum.
Fabulous day trip.
The trail as it exists is in 2 sections, separated by by about 8 miles. The southern section begins at the Wassaic metro north train station, and goes north to Millerton, nearly 11 miles away. The trail is paved, in relatively good condition, and goes through some great scenery with a number of views of the Harlem Valley, and some interesting rock cuts. Millerton is a great town for a rest, containing several good restaurants with a varied price range.
The northern section is around 4 miles long, and is also paved, except for one small version, of about 0.25 mile, onto a hard packed gravel road, best for ATB's, but is probably also fine for road bikes. The current northern end, is at Copake Falls at Taconic State Park. There is a general store here next to the trail, in the old freight building.
When the 2 sections are finally joined, this will truly be a 5-star trail. This is doubly true when the extension north to Chatham is completely purchased and finished.
We (two seniors) rode this on September 7. The trail is in excellent shape and there's a lot to see. Fall colors were just beginning to come out. Deer getting a bit to eat in the corn fields along the trail. Streams were all running and gurgling. Geese were stopping in the ponds along the way as they were starting to head south. A conservation area along the trail had alpaca and swans (and maybe more animals that we didn't get to see). Lots of benches for resting. Had a nice lunch at a tea shop in the end of the trail across from the train depot. We thought the trail was 14+ miles, based on the traillink info, but the main section is only about 21...a little disappointing. But a great ride, nonetheless.
I rode up to Wassaic by Metro North and rode north from the train station today. This is the finest trail I've found yet, the paved surface gave a super ride. Magnificent does not begin to describe the time you will have doing what ever activity you enjoy, mine is biking! I rode from Wassaic to Millerton and if I had the time I would have done the round trip several times! I'll be returning soon!
Patty and I traveled about 50 miles in three days of biking on the trail. We started out at Rudd Pond Campgrounds. We parked our car in lot. Great place to start. We then headed north on Under Mountain road for about 7 miles. Just wanted everyone to know its a quiet country road, beautiful scenery ,but its has some steep hills about even going north and south. But well worth the trip. We then picked up the paved section of the trail and headed to Bish Bash Falls. If you are looking for a great day trip I highly advise this one. There is a country store and Bicycle Shop at the end of the trail. Total trip about 24 miles. Then the next day we headed south on the trail from Sharon Road in Millerton. We went the south about 9 miles to Amenia, stopped in this real nice town and headed back. The path is in great shape and if you are a novice biker take this trip. You can take your bikes on the train from the city ,get off at Wassic and ride north on the trail to Millerton. Millerton had all the amenities you will require.The total ride is 22 miles from the train station. Another day we just jumped on the trail about 4 miles south of Millerton. Headed north to Millerton and traveled some quiet country roads. Three days of biking in a great area.
My husband and I rode this trail for the first time this past weekend. We started at the train station in Wassaic and rode to Millerton. It was a easy ride. Trail is paved and in great condition. Portable toilets were available at most of the parking areas. The village of Millerton is a charming and a great rest stop before heading back to Wassaic.
Patty & I have been on this section three times in the last two years. Our ride this past weekend was good. The trail seems to have been work on over the last year. This paved trail was in great condition,no holes or roots growing this time. The Millerton to Amenia ride takes about 1 hour each way. If you have not been on this section its a real nice ride. Lots of wildlife to see. We have been on the northern section and its only 4.5 miles long, short trip but worth it.When in Millerton there are some nice restaurants where you can have lunch.If you choose to stay over have dinner at the Woodlands in Lakeville CT. Wonderful place, be sure to make reservations.
While the trail description indicates that only sections 2 & 3 are open, the Southern-most segment from Wassiac to Amenia is indeed complete, bringing the Dutchess section to a total of around 11 miles. There is ample parking at Wassiac station (free on weekends, metered during the week).
My wife and I traveled this trail over Labor Day weekend (2009). We've been on it 4-5 times before over the past few years and really like the scenery. She bikes, I roller blade. We do the Amenia, NY north section...maybe a 6-8 mile stretch.
This last time I most definitely noted tree-root bumps on the trail at almost every section...not to say they are constant...just that they make their presence known quite often now.
I throw this out there for all bladers because you really have to be alert to the bumps. Any blader knows full well what these bumps can do to your nice afternoon...not to mention your body.
As an aside, we also did the Collinsville (CT) and Cheshire (CT) trails that same weekend. Collinsville is almost useless now for roller blading for the same reason...the tree-root bumps there are downright treacherous and unavoidable. MAJOR work needs to be done on this trail. Re Cheshire...it was definitely the best of the 3 trails, but also had some root bumps (plus, there are a few sections where the paving is very rough...again, roller bladers will notice this, bikers will not).
There you have it...a few up-to-date observations.
Several years ago, I had looked at this trail as a possible route to Massachusetts, the eastern part of which my grandparents live in. However, I didn't much want to attempt to bike over the Berkshires. This summer, my family and I went for a few days to a resort in Lee, Mass (north of Great Barrington,) so I decided to try this trail to get to it. Last Tuesday, I took the Metro-North to Wassaic Station. The trail is on the opposite side of the railroad track from the station platform. I biked north along the trail, reading the signs along the way, to Millerton. At Millerton, a quaint little town, the trail ends with the old station (now a real-estate office) with a sign saying "Millerton" on it across the street. Make a left on the street (Rt 44) and a right on Rt 22. Bike on Rt 22 through some farms (I went to the side, to a cow pen, and a cow licked my hand!) for 8 miles until you hit Undermountain Rd. You shouldn't miss it - although it is a small street and you're biking downhill, there is a sign telling you to make a right for the trail. Bike about 2,000 feet, and make a left onto the trail. The trail continues for 4 miles (including a 0.4-mile section on a dirt road) before ending at Copake Falls. On your left is what clearly was the railroad station, with some track built in, as well (it is now called the "Depot Store.") Across the street is a bike shop, which happens to be closed on Tuesdays! How convenient! Thus ends the trail.
As far as progress on the trail goes, a poster on some of the trailside bulletin boards said that construction on the section between Millerton and Underhill Rd has been delayed due to the fact that the railroad bed is now home to the Bog Turtle, an endangered species. Also, much of the railbed has been washed out. They are considering making part of the trail go along existing roads. As for the 22-mile section of the trail continuing north to Hillsdale and Chatham, apparently 14 miles of it have been acquired by the HRVTA.
After they complete the missing sections, it would make an even greater trip if they extend the trail southwards along the existing railroad to Brewster. Then, you would be able to ride all the way from Van Cortlandt Park in New York City via the old Putnam Railroad (on this website as the North County Trail and South County trail) to near Brewster, and then continue on this trail, all 120 miles to Chatham, almost completely off-road! Even as is now, you can make the ride, although you would have to take the Metro-North from Brewster to Wassaic.
If you want to continue northwards (under 20 miles more) to the Berkshires, and the many resorts and scenery there, make a left on the street at the end of the trail in Copake Falls. Go down the hill, make a right at the bottom, and make another right on Rt 22. Keep going on this until you hit Yonderview Rd. Make a right on it, ride to the end of the street, and make another right on Rt 23. Keep along 23, up the long hill, entering Massachusetts, and keep riding on it until Great Barrington. There are buses with bike racks that run from there to the rest of the Berkshires. Website for the bus company: http://www.berkshirerta.com. Note that these buses don't run on Sundays.
I highly recommend this trip for its great scenery, quaint little towns, and great riding. And I've biked enough in my life that my recommendation should mean something!
As always, you are free to contact me with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you folks for submitting the pictures. I sure wish it wasn't December, raining, and 40 degrees.
I have been using the trail two to three times a year for years now. Begining in spring of 2005 I've taken a group of Cub Scouts out for our annual bike hike. Great for all ages and abilities. Be sure to make Millerton the half way point and grab some lunch. The Millerton station is a wonderful building to view. The gem of the trail is the restored station on the east side that is now a private residence. Take a second to admire the workmanship. The trail will only get better as it expands north. A southern trail south to Dover or even Pawling (along the existing railbed) would be out of this world.
"Started at Millerton and rode down to Metro North Sta. at Wassaic and returned. Very level trail and in great shape in spite of recent heavy rains, and crews are out mowing. Started the Section 5 at the south and rode up to Copeck falls and returned. Lots of birds and wild life. Lots of places to rest and signs about the history of the area. This will be a better ride when section 4 gets done. "
"I rode this trail on 10/19/05 .I rode all open sections,the scenery was wonderful(especially sections 2,3,5),very well maintained and very few people on the trail.Whenever section 4 is opened,this trail will be a home run. "
Section 1 is complete and open to the public. It starts right at the Wassaic railroad station which is great because there is plenty of parking there and it's free on weekends. The parking lot in Amenia is always full on weekends. You can park at Wassaic and go all the way to Millerton on the trail which is a nice 10+ mile ride.
The new section south of Amenia is almost finished. I rode the new section and it was 2.1 miles one way. It's a great new addition to the trail.
Construction has finally begun on section 1 from Wassaic to Amenia. This will add about three miles to the 8.2 miles that are open from Amenia to Millertown.
"The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is a very nicely maintained and laid out trail with light traffic on the beutiful summer weekend I was there. It will be awesome when the whole thing is finished (2 separate parts now) but the nearby farm roads aren't bad. Avoid NY Route 22, though, near Millerton."
"I have been riding on this trail for several years and it continues to be my favorite! There's great scenery and plentiful wildlife (if you're quiet and watchful enough!). You can extend the Amenia to Millerton ride by going north on some lovely, low rolling back roads past Rudd Pond for a total of about 7-8 miles before coming to the trail head for the northern-most (currently) paved section that extends another 4 miles up to Copake Falls. This part of the traill does have one very short section of dirt road, but is well worth the ride!"
I was on the short 8-mile paved section from Millterton to Amenia and just a note to bicycle tourers that this is a great rail-trail for tourists as it is paved for loaded touring bikes that offers a nice scenic break from car traveled roads and is right off the Adventure Cycling route that runs from Maine to Florida.
The trail is very nicely paved and seems fairly new. There is also a section north of Amenia that parallels NY 22. Check out the website for updated info on the completion. It is slated to go all the way to Hillsdale in the next 3/4 years.
Port-o-johns are placed at the beginning and end and I think one place in between. There is a trail map at each end but no free water sources that I saw. There is a bikeshop in Millerton right by the trailhead but it appeared closed when we went by.
"I had a great experience on this trail. The weather was gorgeous and the trail was quiet. I loved seeing the horses, cows, sheep and chickens. The remodeled station house looks nice. I am looking forward to this trail expanding. I definitely could have ridden longer."
"If a very well maintained paved trail surface of moderate length is your favorite cup of tea, by no means should you miss visiting the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. Although weather conditions were much less than perfect on the day of my visit, and the closest trailhead to my home required a 2-hour drive to reach, I had an extremely enjoyable experience bicycling Sections 2, 3, and 5 (the only ones open at the time of my visit).
To complete Sections 2 & 3, I parked in the designated trail users’ lot on Mechanic Street in Amenia. The lot is quite small and my understanding is that on weekends it fills quickly. If the lot should be full when you arrive, parking is permitted at the Amenia Town Hall/Firehouse parking lot, which is about 2/10 mile west of the trailhead. Designated trail user parking for Sections 2 & 3 is also available at Coleman Station. Parking in Millerton is ad hoc on local streets and in municipal parking lots.
I encountered surface conditions along Sections 2 & 3 that I would classify as excellent for bicyclists and walkers, but less than perfect for in-line skaters due to many blisters and cracks in the asphalt surface. There are several local street crossings but all are very well marked with painted crosswalks and caution signs. There is one crossing of a high-speed highway, that of Route 343; use extreme caution there. Views along this portion of the trail encompass portions of the Berkshire Mountains, sprawling farmlands, and dense woods. Food & beverages are available very close to both the Amenia and Millerton trailheads. Portable rest rooms are stationed at the Amenia and Coleman Station trailheads.
To complete Section 5, I parked in the designated trail users’ lot on Undermountain Road in Ancram (about a 20-minute drive north of Amenia on Route 22). There was no portable toilet in this parking area. Parking for Section 5 is also available at Taconic State Park in Copake Falls.
Trail surface conditions along the paved segment of Section 5 (a very short portion of this route uses a limited access dirt road) were better than those along Sections 2 & 3. If in-line skating is your passion, Section 5 is the place for you! As with Sections 2 & 3, views here too included the distant Berkshire Mountains, sprawling farmlands, and dense woods. Section 5 does not pass through any town centers, but a small privately owned snack bar is located adjacent to the trailhead in Copake Falls. There are no public street crossings along Section 5 except the limited access dirt road mentioned above.
In summary, a visit to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail is well worth a drive from afar at least once if not several times."
"Birch and aspen trees, vistas, and birds and rabbits criss crossing the trail make HVRT one of the more beautiful trails I have been on. Terminus at Taconic State Park for camping and 1.5 mile hike to Bash Bish Falls. Less than 6 miles to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hillsdale (late July)."
Both sections [north & south] are beautiful. Millerton is a cute place to stop for lunch. The connecting back roads quite hilly.
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