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The O&W Rail Trail provides a glimpse into the area’s history from the perspectives of both a historical canal and a railroad. The Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal carried coal from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, to Kingston, New York, for the New York City and Albany markets from 1828 to 1898. The canal was shut down in favor of the New York, Ontario and Western Railway, more commonly known as the O&W (and nicknamed the Old and Weary), which was in use until the mid-20th century. A major carrier of anthracite coal, the O&W was also an important carrier of milk and dairy products, as well as urban tourists seeking the fresh air of resorts and farmhouse boarding.
Today the trail is open in several disconnected sections, with 16.7 miles of trail open in Ulster County and another 9.2 miles available in Sullivan County. Note that the O&W Rail Trail does not connect across county lines.
Ulster County: 16.7 miles
In Ulster County, the rail-trail provides a scenic wooded path for recreational users. Generally it is rustic and unpaved. On its northern end, the O&W Rail Trail begins in Kingston, where it has a grassy surface best explored on a mountain bike or on foot. From this endpoint, note that the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is only 2.2 miles away.
The O&W Rail Trail starts just west of the Washington Avenue and Taylor Street intersection and extends 0.5 mile before it peters out shortly after the I-87 underpass. You can pick up the trail again a mile farther southwest at a well-marked trailhead with parking located off US 209, south of Esopus Creek in the town of Hurley. From here down to Marbletown, the trail is sometimes referred to as the Hurley Rail Trail; from Marbletown south, it’s sometimes called the Marbletown Rail Trail.
For 2 miles, the asphalt-surfaced trail runs adjacent to US 209. This portion is suitable for in-line skaters, road cyclists, and wheelchair users. It is particularly scenic as you continue south, as there is an American Indian planting field and a railroad tunnel in Hurley.
Traveling toward the community of Cottekill, roughly halfway from the start of this segment, the area becomes heavily wooded and grassy. Heading south from Cottekill Road, users will encounter steep grades and rougher terrain featuring mostly dirt and cinder.
As you continue south to cross NY 213, consider turning east for a view of the High Falls dam and access to the historical High Falls. This charming town features many businesses, restaurants, and the D&H Canal Museum. Several miles after High Falls, you’ll cross Rest Plaus Road via an overpass that offers a great view of the surrounding countryside. Note that the overpass does not provide access to Rest Plaus Road itself.
As you approach the southern end of this segment, the trail will cross Kyserike Road. The trail jags west here and continues south to County Road 1/Lucas Turnpike, though there is no navigational signage. Here the area just north of the road traverses a private lumberyard. After the trail hits CR 1/Lucas Turnpike, there is a 1.5-mile gap to continue to the final trail segment. This gap is particularly difficult to navigate by bike, as it follows several heavily trafficked roads.
The southern portion of the trail is a 3.5-mile stretch from Accord to Kerhonkson. This picturesque wooded area follows Rondout Creek. The natural surface of the southern segment makes it perfect for horseback riding, walking, mountain biking, and winter sports.
Sullivan County: 9.2 miles
Three segments of the O&W Rail Trail are open within the town of Fallsburg: Mountaindale to Woodridge, 2.1 miles; Woodridge to South Fallsburg, 1.7 miles; and South Fallsburg to Hurleyville, 5.4 miles. When complete, the trail will stretch 25 miles through Sullivan County, from the D&H Canal Linear Park in Summitville to downtown Liberty.
Begin your trail experience at the old Mountaindale Train Station, which is now a visitor center full of photographs and artifacts. There is also a local bike shop in case you need a tune-up or to rent a bike. The trail in this section is relatively flat on a dirt and crushed-stone path that runs alongside Silver Lake. The 2.1-mile segment ends in Woodridge, where you can find parking at the intersection of Green Avenue and Greenfield Road.
The next segment, which travels through the west side of Woodridge, is 0.6 mile away; you can connect to it with on-road riding on Broadway. This 1.7-mile trail is a similar ride through the dense tree canopy, with multiple picnic areas along the way for a short rest.
South Fallsburg, about 5 miles west of Woodridge, is a lovely small town that offers many food options to fuel up for your ride. This last section of the trail has a mixture of surfaces. Beginning at Water Street in South Fallsburg, you’ll head northwest on the trail. Use caution in inclement weather, as this segment is mostly dirt and can get muddy in the rain. The relatively flat ride runs past Alta Lake and on to downtown Hurleyville, where you’ll be greeted by a hand-painted HURLEYVILLE RAILS TO TRAILS sign. In Hurleyville, another parking lot is located next to a park and basketball court; from here you’ll enjoy a newly paved pathway as you continue traveling northwest through tall mature trees to the trail’s end at Denman Road.
Ulster County: To reach the northern parking lot for the Hurley Rail Trail section, take I-87 to Exit 19, and merge onto NY 28 W. Go 0.5 mile, and use the right lane to merge onto US 209 S. Go 1.6 miles, crossing Esopus Creek; the parking lot and trailhead come up on the left just after you cross Esopus Creek.
To reach the southern endpoint in Kerhonkson, follow the directions above to US 209 S. Go 19.9 miles, and turn left onto 42nd St. (Clay Hill Road will be on your right). Cross Rondout Creek in 0.1 mile, then take an immediate left onto Main St. A parking area is on the right in 500 feet after the Kerhonkson Fire House. Proceed 0.1 mile east, with the creek on your left; the southern trailhead is located on Main St.
Sullivan County: To reach parking for the eastern section in Mountaindale from I-87, take Exit 4W to merge onto NY 17 W. Go 15.6 miles, and take the exit for Masten Lake Crossover. Turn left onto Masten Lake Crossover, then immediately turn left onto Wurtsboro Mountain Road. In 1.25 miles turn right onto Masten Lake Road, and follow it 7.5 miles. Turn right onto Main St./Mountaindale Road. In 0.4 mile turn left onto Old Post Hill Road, then turn left onto Railroad Ave. in 300 feet. Park by the old Mountaindale Train Station, now a visitor center with restrooms. To reach the trail, head past the parking lot and you’ll come to a signboard for the MOUNTAINDALE O&W LINEAR PARK.
Parking is available for the western section in South Fallsburg. From I-87, take Exit 4W to merge onto NY 17 W. Go 22.5 miles, and take Exit 107. Continue onto Heiden-Thompsonville Road, and go 4.2 miles (it becomes Heiden Road). Turn right onto NY 42 N/Main St., and go 1.0 mile. Turn left onto Griff Court, and go 0.3 mile to 20 Water St.
Parking is also available in Hurleyville. From I-87, take Exit 4W to merge onto NY 17 W. Go 25.5 miles, and take Exit 105B. Turn right onto NY 42, and go 0.1 mile. Turn left onto Anawana Lake Road, go 4.2 miles, and then turn right onto Columbia Hill Road/Main St. Look for the HURLEYVILLE RAILS TO TRAILS sign in 0.3 mile on the left to reach the trail.
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