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The Old Erie Path reveals spectacular views of the Hudson River Valley as the rail-trail rolls along cliffs that border the river’s western shore. Although fairly short, it joins two other rail-trails—Joseph B. Clarke Rail Trail and Raymond G. Esposito Memorial Trail—that combine for more than 8 miles of off-road travel in historic Rockland County.
The trail follows the original corridor of the Northern Railroad of New Jersey, which primarily ran passenger trains from Jersey City to Nyack and used tracks owned by the New York & Erie Railroad between Sparkill and Piermont. The Erie Railroad bought the line in 1942, after which it became Erie’s Nyack and Piermont Branch. Passenger service ended in 1966.
The trail begins just east of the railroad Y-junction in Sparkill, where the Northern Railroad left the Erie Railroad main line heading to Lake Erie. Called Depot Square, this is where today the Old Erie Path meets the 4.3-mile Joseph B. Clarke Rail Trail, which heads southwest to Tappan and northwest to Blauvelt.
You’ll notice that the Old Erie Path has a rougher surface than the Clarke or Esposito trail; hybrid or mountain bikes are recommended over skinny-tire road bikes. The first mile goes through woodlands above Sparkill Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River, before it arrives in the village of Piermont at the circa 1873 railroad depot. Today the building on Ash Street is a museum operated by the Piermont Historical Society. A nearby marker—JC 25—tells the distance to Jersey City.
Piermont is noted for the mile-long pier built into the Hudson River in 1838 by the New York & Erie Railroad to pick up passengers and cargo. Plaques describe it as the site where more than a million servicemen embarked by ship to North Africa and Europe during World War II. You can reach the pier and Piermont’s historical downtown and eateries by heading downhill on Hudson Terrace and then turning right onto Ash Street.
Leaving the old depot, a thick hardwood forest surrounds the trail through Grand View-on-Hudson, whose name is derived from its setting. The railroad company laid track about 200 feet up the cliffs that overlook the Hudson. The trees provide shade in the summer, while the leafless vegetation in the fall and winter allows for views of the Piermont pier, Westchester County across the Hudson, and the steel girders of the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (formerly known as the Tappan Zee Bridge). The new shared-use path on the bridge is expected to draw more traffic to local trails.
Homeowners, many of them above or below the corridor, access the trail by way of creative engineering: hillside stairways with handrails fashioned from the limbs of native trees, as well as decorative archways and gates on intricate pulley systems.
Crossing South Broadway, the pathway soon enters South Nyack and becomes the Raymond G. Esposito Memorial Trail, which ends in Franklin Street Park after a mile.
To reach the endpoint in Sparkill from I-287, take Exit 13S to merge onto the Palisades Interstate Pkwy. Go 4.9 miles, and take Exit 5S onto US 303 S. Go 0.5 mile, and turn left onto Kings Hwy. Go 0.9 mile and turn right onto Orangeburg Road; then go 0.3 mile and turn right onto Main St. Go 0.1 mile, turn right onto Depot Sq., and look for on-street parking. Head northeast on the right trail fork 0.2 mile to reach the Old Erie Path.
Sunday, August 26, 2018, temperature 88F, mixed sun & clouds, moderate humidity.
This one review for 3 connected trails: Old Erie, Raymond Esposito, and Joseph B. Clark, where I started at the north end in Blauvelt.
This is a wonderful asphalt community trail that is a very gentle slope down from the northern village of Blauvelt. Nice scenery with a mix of open skies and shade. Near the southern end there is a public park with a side connection to the contiguous Raymond Esposito and Old Erie trails, that are unpaved and slope gently down to end at a park in Nyack. The trail looks down over streets and homes in Piermont and Nyack with occasional summer views of the Hudson River. You ride through a shady forest on a gravel road that becomes a dirt path for a short distance before getting bigger and gravelly again. It's fun.
On a warm Sunday afternoon at the end of the trail I decided to take the streets back through Nyack to Piermont and was not disappointed. Nyack along the Hudson River is lined with Victorian and old sea captain-like homes. It's a bike route so there other bikers not doing the trails and really not too much traffic, so I felt safe. The street leads to Piermont, a beautiful little tree-lined village right on the Hudson river offering piers, marinas, restaurants, coffee shops and specialty stores. It really is spectacular. Then the streets lead from a small park over a creek back to the other little park where you meet the trail again. Without signs or knowledge I just followed my instincts and and found my way. Worth a return visit. 16+ miles round trip.
I've ridden and walked this trail many times as I live near here. Great trail with nice river views. In my opinion not really suitable for road bikes. The old Piermont train station is open on weekends and is worth a stop.
Beautiful trail. Loved the views and all the unique and creative wooden gates several homeowners fashioned along the way. Highly recommend.
I was there last weekend with my 12 year old son and 13 year old daughter. We are all beginners - but we made it all the way, both ways. The trail was beautiful. It was a really hot day (mid 90's) but it wasn't too bad on the trail - as there was nice shade and we were right near the water. Really nice to look down on the houses and and the Hudson river, between the trees. (Use insect repellant, as there are some patches where there are swarms. Not too bad most of the way - but there were a few spots.)
"This is one of the best rail trails in the metropolitan NYC area. The best time to travel this trail is from late fall to early spring to take advantage of the open views of the Hudson River, Piermont, the Tappan Zee Bridge and Westchester. Earlier in the fall, the views are more restricted, but the foliage is gorgeous. The southern end of the trail connects with the Joseph B Clarke Rail Trail, and the northern end connects with the Raymond G Esposito Bikeway. The Long Path crosses the trail at Ash St in Piermont and a loop hike can be made by connecting with the Long Path in Nyack at Highland Ave (less than 1/2 mile west -uphill - from the Cedar Hill Ave end of the RG Esposito Bikeway.
Take time to appreciate the architecture of many of the houses above and below the trail on the steep embankments in Grandview and Piermont. Also avail yourself of the many restaurants and shops in the picturesque village of Piermont.
Rates a 9 out of 10!
"This is one of the best biking trails near NYC. I bike here at least 2 times per month and I never tire of the scenery. The best seasons to bike on this trail are late fall, winter and early spring. The foliage is light then, which permits you to easily view the Hudson River and Westchester County, NY.
The trail is very easy to find, there's plenty of free and safe parking, and restaurants are nearby for your after ride dining pleasure. There are even two top-notch bike shops close at hand if you need a quick repair. One shop is in Piermont, the other in Nyack.
Quick connections to Nyack Beach State Park trails and the Joseph B. Clarke Rail Trail are possible. The Clarke trail is directly connected; travel on local streets will be necessary for Nyack Beach State Park riders.
Don’t miss this trail under any circumstances.
Write to me for more details if you’d like to."
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