Zim Smith Mid-County Trail

New York

29 Reviews

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Zim Smith Mid-County Trail Facts

States: New York
Counties: Saratoga
Length: 11.5 miles
Trail end points: Oak St., 0.3 mile south of E. High St. (Ballston Spa) and Elizabeth Street (Mechanicville)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6032552

Zim Smith Mid-County Trail Description

Popular with residents of Saratoga County who commute under their own power or love to exercise outdoors, the nearly 12-mile Zim Smith Mid-County Trail is considered the backbone of a growing trail system, with connections to major tech companies and hiking trails.

Near-term plans called for extending the trail east to Mechanicville for an eventual connection to the future Champlain Canalway Trail; this crucial connector was completed in 2020. Longer-term plans propose a northern route through Saratoga Spa State Park to Railroad Run in Saratoga Springs. The trail, named for local historic preservationist Zimri Smith, has been honored as a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The trail follows an old railroad corridor completed as the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad between Ballston Spa and Troy in 1836. Leased by the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Railroad beginning in 1871, it was acquired by D&H in 1945.

Ballston Spa marks the northern trailhead. At one time, four railroads passed through the village, founded near a mineral spring known for its curative powers. The paved trail starts out along an active railroad for a short distance, a configuration known as rail-with-trail, before veering into the woods, passing an industrial park, and arriving at Shenantaha Creek Park. The name means “deer water” in Iroquois, and you can find flax mill ruins there. The park also has restrooms and a drinking fountain, as well as other recreational amenities.

The path rolls through remote woodland another 1.5 miles until it passes beneath I-87 and beside a dirt trail on the left known as the Zim Smith Connector. The connector goes 1.2 miles east to US 9 in Malta, where it connects to a paved trail system serving the Luther Forest Technology Campus, home of chip makers and other tech companies.

In another mile, a handsome white-frame church and other period buildings signal your arrival in Round Lake Village, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Victorian village, with quiet streets and gingerbread cottages featuring long porches, recalls a time when it served as a Methodist camp meeting site with thousands of visitors every summer. The Round Lake Auditorium, dating from the late 1800s on Wesley Avenue, is home to a working 1,900-pipe organ that was named a National Historic Landmark in 2017.

Leaving Round Lake, the trail crosses US 9 in 0.7 mile. The trail passes bird-viewing spots in the wetlands and there is a trailhead at Coons Crossing Road in Halfmoon. The Mechanicville extension travels about 3 miles along the south side of the railroad yard to Elizabeth Street Extension in Mechanicville.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Ballston Spa trailhead from I-87, take Exit 13S toward US 9 S. Go 0.6 mile on US 9 S, and turn right onto Malta Ave./County Road 63. Go 2.9 miles, and turn left onto Hyde Blvd.; then go 0.6 mile, and turn left onto E. High St. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right onto Oak St. Go 0.3 mile, and look for parking at the end of the street.

To reach the Coons Crossing trailhead from I-87, take Exit 10 to Ushers Road. Head northeast on Ushers Road 0.7 mile, and veer left to stay on Ushers Road; then go 0.6 mile, and bear right to stay on Ushers Road. Go 1.3 miles, and turn left onto Cary Road/Coons Crossing Road. Go about 300 feet and look for parking on the left or right.


Zim Smith Mid-County Trail Reviews

GREAT RIDE

Rode today with my wife and adult son. Beautiful day, and trail is excellent.

Update

From Coons Crossing the trail has been extended 2.5 miles to Mechanicville. Beautiful broad paved trail along the railroad but far enough away to be safe. You may see a freight during your trip.

A Great Trail

August 2020
Starting in Round Lake at a wonderful parking lot, I rode and enjoyed the entire trail, which is beautifully asphalt paved. Some nice scenery. Finishing at 5:00 pm the local church was playing more than 5 minutes of various tunes, the longest I have ever hear. Definitely worth a visit.

Zim Smith - a great trail

Our family frequents the Zim Smith Trail regularly. In fact, we just returned from a bike ride. The trail is excellent; nicely paved and perfect for walking, running and cycling - and even cross country skiing when we have good snow falls in winter. It also is a snow mobile trail in the winter. Early mornings or evenings are best if you wish to avoid a lot of company ; but by and large, people are friendly and considerate. If you are walking or running, most cyclists ring their bell or announce that they are coming by saying “coming on the left”. It also very family and dog friendly. It is great that it now extends to Halfmoon on the South-eastern section. When our daughter was younger, we parked at Shenantaha Park, which has a good size parking are and a playground. It also has a shelter for groups to hold picnics. Presently, we usually park at the newly paved and expanded parking lot by Leah’s Cakery. https://leahs-cakery.com Leah’s has a very friendly and is a great place to get something to eat, although currently you might occasionally have to wait outside since only one customer is allowed in the store due to the Covid pandemic. Also, it is only open Tuesday through Sunday. We hope this helps. Enjoy .

Accordion

Deb, Nanny & 3 Dogs

We have walked this trail numerous times and just love it.
Bikers need to either use a bell or announce "On your left" when coming upon walkers/joggers.
Wish there were mile markers from end to end.

Watch for Construction

I was there yesterday and entered the trail in Round Lake near Leah's Bake Shop. We rode north for a little bit but found the trail was closed for construction. Not being familiar with the roads in the area, I am not sure how much of it was closed but it was after the highway overpass.

It is a beautiful ride with lots of nice places to stop for refreshments. The Village of Round Lake is lovely.

Nice relaxing trail

Great bike trail to chill and ride down on a nice day

Wish it was longer

This is a great trail. The surface goes from paved to crusted stone. Both are equally smooth. It's easily ridden on a road bike. A journey on this trail makes for a nice fall foliage ride. Also, the quaint town of Round Lake is worth a stop.
We rode from the Oak St. parking area (on-street) in Ballston Spa. If you GPS 198 Oak St., it takes you right there.

Parking area at terminus on Oak St

Not sure if this has been mentioned in previous comments, but the trail was extended another couple of paved miles to the north to Oak Street in Ballston Spa. There is on street parking on this dead end lane.
There is also a two mile spur trail, signed, about midway which runs through the woods to US Route 9.
I concur with the many reviews I have read, the trail is well maintained and is fairly well shaded.

Beautifull Ride

Perfect day, with no negatives. Trail is not completely paved. But these areas are smoother (like glass)than a lot of paved roads. Would not attempt with a road bike tire of 23mm, if wet. No issues dry.

zim Smith Trail great

Great trail. It is a bit short if you're into long bike rides, as in more than two hours. However, most of it is paved and wide. So, it's perfect for safe multi use.if you're familiar with the eire canal trail, you'll enjoy this one.

Zim Smith Trail - Perfect for Beginners and Experienced Bikers Alike!

Fantastic Trail, a great portion of it was shaded which works really well for those hot summer months! Would highly recommend!

Enjoyable

I took my dog to this trail yesterday. overall the trail was very nice. It was well maintained, and pretty enjoyable!

My only complaints are about a family who's home is near the trail they had two dogs running off leash and it really made the experience unpleasant for me

Also I found a tick on my dog as soon as I got home so watch out for that!

I'll definitely visit this trail again!

Shady on the hottest days of summer

From one terminus to another, this is a mostly shady trail, with exception of a mile of a half mile of so in the Curtis Lumber Industrial area. Observe caution at the intersection of Eastline - a very busy area. Terrain is easy. A lovely side trip is into Round Lake Village to admire the small gardens and small Victorian homes. Leah's Cafe where the bike trail crosses Curry Rd. is a charming spot for a break. Great birding along the swampy area near the Coon's Crossing terminus. Courteous cyclists and walkers everywhere. If you're squeamish about snakes, be aware that in the area between Shenantaha and Ruhle Rd. you can count on seeing them on the path on the Fall. My only negative comment is that from one end to the other, I can count on passing through at least five areas with a strong sewage smell. It has been that way for five years with no improvement or resolution.

Great for a family bike outing

We have young kids, ages 1-6 and we enjoyed biking on this trail in small sections. There were plenty of stopping points including a playground and a park and a Stewarts for a snack. Just a good trail for inexperienced riders and a leisurely bike ride.

Great beginner's trail

Half paved, half gravel. Gentle grades with some nice scenery. Not dangerous for little children (or adults!) and a generally very pleasant (but not exciting) biking experience offering great exercise in a pleasant environment. I look forward to biking here again soon.

An Easy Ride - nice way to unwind...

The trail has some nice scenery - ravines at Shenantaha Creek Park and a pond near the trail’s end at Coon’s Crossing that was stunning in the fall (late afternoon). I posted the photo in the gallery. Easy and flat... folks along the way all very friendly !

More PICs and an pld Railroad map on my blog:
http://rc-pedalpoint.blogspot.com/2013/11/zim-smith-trail.html

Easy ride, Nice day

My family and I enjoyed a very nice day riding on the Zim Smith Trail. We had great weather with a nice breeze, which always makes a big difference. The bugs were not bad at all on this occasion. My daughter was the only one who complained a bit, but we discovered that she was wearing a perfume/body spray that I'm sure contributed to the problem. The sewer smell from a previous listing was present in one area, but tolerable until we could pass through. We peddled south from the Shenantaha Creek Park down to English Rd, total round trip approximately 9 miles, total time with breaks about 1hr 15min. Overall we were very satisfied, and agreed we would return again.

Unfortunate experience

My wife and I tried this trail this past Saturday. Unfortunately we have encountered the worst insect situation ever. We are not strangers to dealing with insects on our biking adventures, but nothing can compare to what we discovered on this trail.

We parked in Shenantaha Creek park and tried riding in both directions from the parking lot. Both attempts ended with the same result: eventually we came across a wooded area that had a strong smell of sewage and were brutally attacked by swarms of brown insects which had a wingspan of about 3/4 inch. As we were riding I could see a brown cloud of them chasing my wife. This felt like a scene from a horror movie.

I do think that this infestation is related to the sewer smell rather than to the simple fact that the path runs through woods. Once we rode past the village of Round Lake and off the section where the asphalt ended, I actually saw a sign that said something about the sewer. I stopped to make a picture of the sign, but insects took this opportunity to attack me with all the viciousness they could muster. Therefore I had to hop back on my bike and pedal to get out of there as fast as I could.

The next day we rode Warren County Bikeway, which turned out to be completely insect free, even though the terrain was similar. In fact, none of the trails we rode recently were this bad. We go on Saddle River Park trail often: commonly there are swarms of small insects near water, but they never chased us. One weekend ago we tried the Dutchess Rail Trail - even though it was also hot and humid we encountered curious individual insects and not aggressive swarms.

This leads me to believe that the problem is individual to the Zim Smith trail rather than the season or the terrain. Even though the scenery is nice and the pavement is in good condition - even the non-paved section is comfortable to ride on a road bike - we will avoid this trail.

Pleasant and scenic trail

This trail is very pleasant and scenic. It's mostly flat and well paved. We got on by parking at Shenantaha Creek Park, off of Eastline Rd. Biked south to just past Round Lake: nice trees, safe crossings, some scenic water and bridges, mostly flat. Biking around Round Lake was fun too. Unfortunately, signage is not very clear. The path goes north to close to Ballston Spa, but coming from Ballston Spa we could not find the beginning ... I ended up getting back on the path at the Underpass Rd, and then followed the path north to the end, where it ended up at Oak St off of East High. So: if you come from Ballston Spa: go east on East High, turn right on Oak St (right after the railroad overpass), and just follow that to the end and you'll see the start of the trail. No signage though! Also, the map currently on TrailLink does not show that northern section.

Great Trail Through the Woods

This truly is a great trail; very picturesque. The best section by far is that south of Shenentaha Creek Park, which winds its way mostly through dense woods and some wetlands, and also past the village of Round Lake (which is made up of dozens of Victorian cottages - a wonderful village to cycle around in for a short diversion from the trail).

The last 3 miles of the trail south (east) of Rt. 9 are hard-packed gravel. Though unpaved, it's very smooth, and should offer no obstacle for road bikes. Indeed, I passed several people on road bikes on that section of the trail.

The total length of the trail is now 8.8 miles. It has been extended north from what is indicated on the map on this web site, to just outside Ballston Spa, a bit shy of E. High Street. Ballston Spa is a great village, containing dozens of large, restored Victorians in its Historic District. There are also numerous shops and restaurants in the downtown area. However, traffic is very heavy, and it is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart.

Trail Marking

When is the Zim Smith Trail going to be fully marked??....I start out at Coons Crossing and the mile markers are only marked to Round Lake...It would be nice to mark the whole trail to Ballston Spa.

Trail goes through to Ballston Spa

This is one of my favorite trails for biking, running and rollerblading. The northern end was completed last fall and now connects to Ballston Spa. I can now bike to my favorite tea house up there! Some paving has gone on south of Round Lake to just before the bridge at Rt. 9. I hope that is the end of the paving in that direction as the firm gravel trail at the southern end is wonderful for running. There is a nice connection about a mile south of Round Lake that leads into the trails in the Usher's Road State Forest. This is about a 2 mile loop with bridges over the small stream and very nice walking/running along the forested route. The road from the southern entrance to the trails can be followed further south up into the hills in the town of Halfmoon for a nice ride/walk/run (albeit somewhat strenuous on the initial climb) with excellent views to the east of the rolling hills east of the Hudson and the Berkshires and Green Mountains in the distance. In the spring when the orchards on the hills bloom, the combination of fragrance and sunrise over the mountains cannot be beat.

Progress toward Balston Spa

I was on the trail yesterday and work is being done to extend the trail from underpass rd to Balston Spa. The bridge north of Underpass rd is paved and paving has been done north of the Bridge. Work has been done at the end of the trail. I havn't been able to find out when it will be formally opened

Zim trail open to horses.

Hello,

I am an avid horseback rider, and recently spoke with the Cornell Cooperative extension equine division and they said that the trail was open to horses. We have ridden the trail twice this year, and it is beautiful! There is limited parking, you might find some in Malta, and in Halfmoon. There is enough space for 1 trailer at the trail head in Ballston Spa, right on underpass road. The CCE told me that the only thing that we as horse people have to respect is that we need to stay to the side of the trail so as not to drop any 'presents' for the other passer-bys. That, and most of the trail is asphalt, so I would much rather walk on the grass anyway. So if you are a horse person, check it out! And please, respect the trail and use common sense so not to ruin it for others. Thank you and happy riding!!

present status

The trail is open from underpass rd in Balston spa to coons crossing. There appears to be a bridge north of underpass rd that is still not completed. Once the bridge is completed the trail will be about an other mile longer into Balston Spa. The completed trail is 7.5 miles long and is very well maintained. There are few road crossings. Unfortunately there are no signs directing people to where the trial begins.

It Is Back Open and Even Better by Mary Beth Farr

Fall 2008 - After all of the construction being done on the I87 bypass, the bike trail is finally open again. The original trail has been regraded and fully paved. In addition, the trail has been extended to the North for approximately another mile. However, this new section of the trail is unpaved but hard packed. Still road bikes and mountain bikes can easily ride the additional section of the trail. For additional details on the trail, see my previous post for a great ride on the Zim Smith Mid-County Trail.

Temporarily closed for work (June 2008)

I found this trail on Trailink, and decided to check it out. Unfortunately, it appears that it's under construction -- it looks all ripped up, and there are large orange signs that say, "Trail closed." Perhaps they are paving the entire thing?

Maybe someone can post here when it's up and running again.

Best Kept Secret - Asphalt North / Hard Packed South by Mary Beth Farr

This is one of my favorite trails. The trail begins in the town of Round Lake which in and of itself is a nice addition for riding the quiet streets of a quaint old town. The town takes you back in time. There is parking at the beginning of the trail. Going North out of town the trail is asphalt all the way to the end on Route 67 and passes a town park approximately 3.3 miles where there are public bathroom facilities, picnic tables, and plenty of parking. This trail is great for families with small children since the roads that the trail crosses have limited traffic.

In 2007 this trail was expanded going South out of town. The surface of the trail is hard packed and easy to ride with mountain or road bikes. The trail crosses Route 9 over an old rail trestle and goes south of the Lake and then towards the east ending on Route 67 (south). There are no bathroom facilities in this direction but again is a great ride for families with small children since this section of the trail does not cross any roads. At this end of the trail there are no parking facilities.

For the more adventurous rider, you can safely add additional miles to your ride by going out of town on Curry Avenue, left on Washington Avenue/Herlihy Road bear right on Wood Road which then parallels the Northway Route 87 all the way to Route 9. This back road has very limited traffic and is a well maintained paved back road.

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