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Offering a picturesque and family-friendly adventure, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail stretches 7.1 miles through hardwood forests, over Black Creek, and under two spectacular stone-arch bridges. Connecting the towns of New Paltz, Lloyd, and Highland, the rail-trail follows the former right-of-way of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Two trailside cabooses, one dating to 1915 and the other to 1926, offer nods to the corridor’s railroading past.
From North Putt Corners Road in New Paltz, you’ll head east, paralleling NY 299 through a mixture of commercial areas and wooded canopy. A highlight of this section is passage through Tony Williams Park, where you’ll find athletic facilities, picnic tables, and restrooms. Less than 0.5 mile from the park, the trail crosses over Black Creek, which is a popular waterway for kayakers and canoeists. Farther on, the trail runs along a rock cut, where you’ll find wildflowers blooming in the crevices in the spring. The cut also provides a cool spot to relax on hot summer days.
Near the trail’s midpoint, two magnificent arched bridges carry New Paltz Road over the corridor. Shortly thereafter, you’ll reach the Highland Rotary Pavilion, named for the Highland Rotary Club, which has made the Hudson Valley Rail Trail a primary project for more than a decade. The park setting offers restrooms, a large parking lot, picnic tables, and drinking water.
Along the route, signage invites you to explore the history of the trail and the communities it connects, while trailside exercise stations encourage you to pause for a health and wellness moment. You are now entering the hamlet of Highland and a more residential trail experience. A pedestrian bridge provides safe passage over US 44/NY 55/Vineyard Avenue as you continue through these more populated surroundings.
At its eastern end, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail meets the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, which offers spectacular views from 212 feet above the Hudson River. Once on the east side of the river, travelers can make a seamless connection to the William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail to continue riding another 13 miles from Poughkeepsie to Hopewell Junction. Together, the three trails were welcomed into Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2016 and offer a seamless, combined route of just over 20 miles. They are also part of the Empire State Trail, a developing 750-mile trail network spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany.
On its east end, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail shares a trailhead with the Walkway Over the Hudson at 87 Haviland Road in Highland. To reach the parking lot in Highland from I-87, take Exit 18 for NY 299 E. Continue on NY 299 for 5 miles, then turn right onto US 9W S. Continue on US 9W for 2.1 miles, then turn left onto Haviland Road. Parking will appear on your left in 0.5 mile.
Toward the west end of the trail, ample parking is provided in Tony Williams Park in Lloyd. To reach the park from I-87, take Exit 18 for Poughkeepsie and New Paltz. At the traffic light at the end of the exit, turn right onto NY 299 E, and go 2.3 miles. Turn right onto New Paltz Road, and go 0.7 mile. Turn left onto South Riverside Road; after 0.1 mile turn right into the parking lot entrance for Tony Williams Park.
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