Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
Take a spin on this 22-mile linear park that connects the dots to business districts in New Paltz, Gardiner, and Rosendale.
photo by Michael Reade
Wallkill to Kingston
Rockwell Rd, Kingston, to Springtown Rd , New Paltz, 10.7 miles (paved in New Paltz only)
Mid-Hudson Regional Information Center, New Paltz to Gardiner Business District, 6.7 miles (paved in New Paltz only)
Once a boon to local farmers transporting fruit and dairy products, the Wallkill Valley Line today attracts bikers and hikers, commuters, and equestrians. Instead of rails, there’s mostly packed dirt and gravel, ideal for mountain or hybrid bikes. As of this writing, the century-old bridge over the Wallkill River at Springtown Road in New Paltz is closed for costly repairs (become a Friend of the Trail at www.wvrta.org to chip in). Thus, follow our two-part journey or whip up a new itinerary!
Northern Section: Kingston to Springtown Road
Our big adventure begins on the outskirts of Kingston in a nondescript parking lot off Rockwell Lane and Route 32. Hang on: It gets better. Hop on the trail for five miles or so through the rock-strewn, lake-dotted countryside and pass through the Williams Lake Area, where a resort is taking shape. Soon after, you’ll come upon a brick smokestack and ruins of the mid-19th-century F.O. Norton Cement Works at Binnewater, as well as eerie off-limits, cold-air-belching mines. Read about its history and view haunting photos on historic markers.
Photo op! Continue onward to the Rosendale Trestle, once the tallest bridge in the world at 150 feet above Route 213 and Rondout Creek, and savor the lovely view of Joppenbergh Mountain and the Shawangunk Ridge.
On the south side, take a 10-minute side trip to Rosendale: Exit off Mountain Road, hang a left to Keator and follow it around to make a right on Route 213/Main Street. (If you’re on foot, descend stone steps to take a direct pedestrian path.) Sink into an armchair with a good read at Postmark Books. Savor a vegetarian brunch at The Rosendale Café. If you’d rather have a mid-morning snack, The Alternative Baker is the perfect stop for lemon bundt cake, scones, and muffins. The return trip is a tad hilly.
Head one mile south and brake at the Friday-through-Sunday Rail Trail Café, a seasonal, outdoor, cash-only eatery known for scrumptious salads and wood-fired pizza. It’s about a three-mile (15-minute) ride from here to the Wallkill River, where the bridge is out. Retrace your steps (almost 11 miles, or one hour back to your starting point).
Southern Section: New Paltz to Gardiner
Photo by Parks & Trails New York
Our journey begins in a parking lot at the Mid-Hudson Regional Information Center. The trail runs right along the back.
Hightail it one mile to Historic Huguenot Street, composed of seven historic stone houses and more. There’s a free walking tour app on their website. Or check out the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, where 140 species of birds have been observed.
Lunchtime! Just off the trail on the Wallkill River, the Gilded Otter serves house-brewed craft beer and short ribs. Mexican Kitchen is an artsy eatery, catering to special dietary needs, that cooks up a killer mole sauce.
Browsing around town, be sure to hit Water Street Market, a mini-village of boutiques, antiques, a sculpture garden, old-fashioned candy store, and several great restaurants with ‘Gunks views.
Back on the bike, and you’ll pass small farms and cruise along the Wallkill before you end your journey in Gardiner, even though the trail continues for two miles to the outskirts of town on Denniston Road.
Spend some time in the Gardiner Business District. If you want an early dinner there’s Village Market + Eatery (three soups daily, plus deli fare) and Café Mio, serving classics and imaginative specials. If you’re more in the mood for happy hour, head to Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, a popular cocktail bar and brew pub.
The ride back is about 40 minutes. At the end, take a three-minute spur off the trail to Garvan’s Gastropub for inspired vegetable entrees and some tasty craft cocktails.
Trail info: www.wvrta.org
Williams Lake Area
The Rosendale Café
The Alternative Baker
Rail Trail Café
Mid-Hudson Regional Information Center
Historic Huguenot Street
Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary
Water Street Market
Village Market + Eatery
Gardiner Liquid Mercantile