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While the Wallkill Valley Railroad no longer carries fruits and vegetables from Ulster County to New York City, trail users can still discover small, family-owned farms and farmers markets serving up fresh produce, meats, and locally made products and beverages along this route. Today the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is popular among locals for walking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing, and it highlights the diversity that embodies America’s rich history.
The corridor’s current incarnation as a linear park welcomes all nonmotorized trail users, and the path is well maintained and easy to navigate. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is mostly unpaved except when entering the various towns to which it connects. Even so, the unpaved sections are easy to traverse with a hybrid bike, even after inclement weather. Parking is plentiful along the trail, which provides an excellent tree canopy and scenic views of mountains, water features, and prairies. This trail has excellent wayfinding signage and allows many opportunities to enjoy the cafés and other amenities of the several small towns it unites.
As you head south from Kingston to Rosendale, enjoy vistas of Third, Fourth, and Fifth Lakes, as well as the historical cement-mining facilities visible from the trail. Around mile 8, one of the best features of the trail is the Rosendale Trestle, about 150 feet tall and 900 feet long, offering great views of the surrounding Hudson Valley.
From Rosendale, the rail-trail travels beside orchards, organic farms, lakes, streams, and the Wallkill River and provides access to the towns of New Paltz and Gardiner. The National Park Service has designated this multiuse trail as a National Recreation Trail, and it’s no wonder. Just west of New Paltz are Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve, which provide access to more than 30,000 acres of woodlands, cliffs, trails, and lakes. Fishing opportunities are also available along the Wallkill River.
At 15 miles, the trail meets the Historic Huguenot Street District in New Paltz, which was once home to American Indians and European settlers. Today the district includes a visitor center and local history archive, archaeological sites, historical stone houses, a reconstructed 1717 Huguenot church, a replica Munsee wigwam, and a burial ground that dates to the town’s first European settlers.
From New Paltz, the trail intersects several others, including the River-to-Ridge Trail, which extends 4.9 miles west to connect the Wallkill River and Shawangunk Ridge. Looking east, the western terminus of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail is less than 3 miles away.
Continue another 7 miles south from New Paltz to finish your journey at the southern terminus in Wallkill. This spot is only 2.5 miles from the northern terminus of the 4.3-mile Walden–Wallkill Rail Trail traveling down to Walden and then Wallkill. Note that although no parking is available at the Wallkill endpoint, you may find parking 2.5 miles north in Gardiner.
To reach parking at the northern terminus from I-87, take Exit 18, and turn left to merge onto NY 299 W. In 1.0 mile, turn right onto New Paltz Bypass/N. Putt Corners Road. In 1.4 miles, turn left onto Shivertown Road, and go 1.1 miles; then turn right onto NY 32 N, and go 11.2 miles. Turn left off the highway onto Rockwell Terr., and go 0.1 mile to Rockwell Lane. Continue straight into a new gravel parking lot. Head to the far end of the parking lot and turn left to begin your journey south.
There is no designated parking area at the southern terminus, but trail users can find a parking lot 2.5 miles north in Gardiner. To reach this parking lot from I-87, take Exit 17 and continue straight toward NY 300. Turn left onto NY 300 N., and go 2.7 miles. Continue straight onto NY 32 N, and go 9.2 miles. Turn left onto US 44/Main St. in Gardiner. In 2.5 miles, turn right onto Second St. Parking is found immediately on the left, opposite the trail. From this trailhead, as you face the trail from the parking lot, you may either turn left and head 2.5 miles to the southern terminus or turn right to pick up the trail heading north.
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