Harlem Valley Rail Trail – Columbia County In New York

Here is everything you need to know about the Harlem Valley Rail Trail – Columbia County:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: New York
  • Length: 4 miles.
  • Type: Biking
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website: https://hvrt.org/

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County, New York, holds a rich historical significance that dates back to the mid-19th century. Originally known as the New York and Harlem Railroad, this rail line was constructed in 1852 to connect New York City with the rural communities of the Harlem Valley. The railroad played a crucial role in the development and growth of the region, facilitating transportation of goods, people, and ideas.

During its early years, the New York and Harlem Railroad primarily served as a freight line, transporting agricultural products, timber, and other goods from the Harlem Valley to the bustling markets of New York City. However, as the popularity of rail travel grew, the line also began to cater to passenger transportation. The railroad became an essential link between the rural communities of Columbia County and the urban centers, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange.

Over time, the rail line underwent several changes and expansions. In the late 19th century, it was electrified, allowing for faster and more efficient transportation. The railroad continued to thrive until the mid-20th century when the rise of automobiles and highways led to a decline in rail travel. In 1972, the last passenger train ran on the line, marking the end of an era.

In the late 20th century, the abandoned rail corridor was repurposed into the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, preserving its historical legacy while providing a recreational space for the local community and visitors. Today, the trail stretches over 10 miles, offering a scenic route for walking, jogging, cycling, and horseback riding. Along the trail, remnants of the railroad’s past can still be seen, including old station buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure, serving as a reminder of the region’s rich transportation history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Wassaic Train Station: Located in the town of Amenia, this is the southernmost access point of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County. It provides convenient access for those arriving by train.

2. Coleman Station: Situated in the town of North East, this access point is located near the intersection of Route 22 and Route 199. It offers parking facilities and is a popular starting point for trail users.

3. Millerton Village Center: Located in the heart of Millerton, this access point provides easy access to the trail for residents and visitors. It offers parking facilities and is close to various amenities in the village.

4. Undermountain Road: This access point is located near the intersection of Undermountain Road and Route 22 in the town of Ancram. It offers parking facilities and is a convenient starting point for trail users.

5. Hillsdale Town Center: Situated in the town of Hillsdale, this access point is located near the intersection of Route 22 and Route 23. It provides parking facilities and is close to various shops and restaurants in the town center.

6. Copake Falls: Located in the town of Copake, this access point is situated near the intersection of Route 22 and County Route 344. It offers parking facilities and is close to the Taconic State Park, making it a popular starting point for trail users.

7. Taconic State Park: This access point is located within the Taconic State Park in the town of Copake. It provides parking facilities and offers access to various recreational activities within the park.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Metro-North Railroad – Commuter train service connecting Harlem Valley Rail Trail to New York City.
2. Dutchess County Public Transit – Bus service providing transportation within Dutchess County.
3. Columbia County Public Transit – Bus service offering transportation within Columbia County.
4. Harlem Valley-Wingdale Shuttle – Shuttle service connecting Wingdale train station to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.
5. Taxi Services – Various taxi companies providing transportation in the area.
6. Ride-Sharing Services – Popular ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft available for convenient transportation.
7. Car Rental Services – Several car rental companies offering vehicles for rent in the vicinity.
8. Bicycle Rentals – Local shops providing bicycle rentals for exploring the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.


The amenities available at the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including at trailheads and parking areas.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas available for trail users at different access points along the trail.

3. Camping sites: While camping is not allowed directly on the trail, there are nearby campgrounds and camping facilities available in Columbia County for those interested in overnight stays.

4. Picnic areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas often have picnic tables and benches.

5. Benches: There are benches placed at regular intervals along the trail, providing resting spots for trail users.

6. Bike racks: Bike racks are available at various points along the trail, allowing cyclists to securely park their bikes while they explore the area.

7. Water fountains: There are water fountains available at some trailheads and rest areas, providing a source of drinking water for trail users.

8. Information kiosks: Information kiosks are placed at different points along the trail, providing maps, trail information, and other useful resources for visitors.

9. Trail signage: The trail is well-marked with signage, indicating distances, directions, and points of interest along the way.

10. Dog-friendly: The trail is dog-friendly, allowing visitors to bring their furry friends along for a walk or run. However, dogs must be kept on a leash and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

Please note that amenities may vary depending on the specific section of the trail and its proximity to different facilities. It is always recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information on amenities available.

Nearby Services

1. Inn at Pine Plains – Charming inn offering comfortable accommodations in Pine Plains.
2. The Millerton Inn – Quaint inn with cozy rooms located in Millerton.
3. The White Hart Inn – Historic inn featuring elegant rooms and a farm-to-table restaurant in Salisbury, CT.
4. The Lantern Inn – Cozy motel offering affordable rooms in Lakeville, CT.
5. Harney & Sons Fine Teas – Tea shop and café serving a variety of teas and light bites in Millerton.
6. Oakhurst Diner – Classic American diner serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Millerton.
7. Harney & Sons Tasting Room – Tasting room and shop offering a wide selection of teas in Millerton.
8. Hillsdale House – Bed and breakfast with comfortable rooms and a delicious breakfast in Hillsdale.
9. Sharon Country Inn – Quaint inn offering comfortable accommodations in Sharon, CT.
10. Sharon Valley Tavern – Casual tavern serving pub fare and drinks in Sharon, CT.
11. Sharon Hospital – Local hospital providing emergency medical services in Sharon, CT.
12. Pine Plains Pharmacy – Pharmacy offering prescription medications and over-the-counter products in Pine Plains.
13. Millerton Police Department – Local police department serving the community of Millerton.
14. Pine Plains Fire Department – Fire department providing emergency fire and rescue services in Pine Plains.
15. Northeast-Millerton Library – Public library offering resources and services to the community of Millerton.

Harlem Valley Rail Trail – Columbia County Difficulty Notes

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County offers a moderate difficulty level for outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 15 miles, providing a diverse and scenic experience for hikers, bikers, and runners. While the trail is mostly flat and well-maintained, there are some sections with gentle inclines and descents, adding a bit of challenge to the journey. The trail also features a variety of terrains, including gravel, dirt, and paved surfaces, which may require some adaptability. Overall, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County offers a manageable level of difficulty, making it accessible to individuals of different fitness levels and ages.

Features And Attractions

1. Copake Iron Works Historic Site: This historic site features the remnants of an ironworks complex that operated from 1845 to 1903. Visitors can explore the preserved buildings, including a blast furnace, waterwheel pit, and other structures.

2. Taconic State Park: Located along the rail trail, Taconic State Park offers stunning scenic views of the Taconic Mountains. The park features hiking trails, picnic areas, and a swimming beach on Rudd Pond.

3. Bash Bish Falls: Although not directly on the rail trail, Bash Bish Falls is a short drive away and definitely worth a visit. It is the highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts and offers breathtaking views and hiking opportunities.

4. Roeliff Jansen Park: This park is situated along the rail trail and provides a beautiful natural setting with open fields, woodlands, and a pond. It offers picnic areas, walking trails, and a playground.

5. Harlem Valley Rail Trail State Park: The rail trail itself offers scenic views of the Harlem Valley, passing through picturesque farmland, forests, and wetlands. It is a great spot for walking, jogging, biking, and birdwatching.

6. Millerton Village: Located at the southern end of the rail trail, Millerton is a charming village with historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and art galleries. It is worth exploring and experiencing the local culture.

7. Roeliff Jansen Kill: This stream runs parallel to the rail trail and provides a tranquil and scenic backdrop. It is a great spot for fishing, birdwatching, or simply enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

8. Pine Plains Plank Road: This historic landmark is a preserved section of the original plank road that was used for transportation in the 19th century. It offers a glimpse into the area’s transportation history.

9. Lake Taghkanic State Park: Located nearby, this state park features a beautiful lake with swimming, boating, and fishing opportunities. It also offers picnic areas, hiking trails, and camping facilities.

10. Harlem Valley Rail Trail Depot: The trailhead in Millerton features a restored train depot that serves as an information center and a starting point for exploring the rail trail. It provides historical context and exhibits related to the railroad history of the area.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles and pedestrians have the right of way.
4. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
5. No camping or overnight stays are permitted.
6. No hunting or fishing is allowed on the trail.
7. No littering. Please use designated trash receptacles.
8. No open fires or barbecues are allowed.
9. No alcohol or illegal substances are permitted.
10. No motorized or electric scooters are allowed on the trail.
11. No unauthorized commercial activities or solicitation.
12. No unauthorized trail modifications or construction.
13. No motorized or remote-controlled toys or devices.
14. No excessive noise or disruptive behavior.
15. The trail is open from dawn to dusk.

Seasonal Information

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County, New York, offers a picturesque and scenic experience for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. The best times to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities one wishes to engage in. However, the spring and fall seasons are particularly popular due to the mild temperatures and vibrant foliage.

In the spring, the trail comes alive with blooming flowers and lush greenery. This is an ideal time for nature lovers and birdwatchers, as migratory birds return to the area. The trail offers a peaceful and serene environment, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride. The moderate temperatures make it comfortable for outdoor activities, and the trail is less crowded compared to the summer months.

During the fall, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail transforms into a breathtaking display of colors as the leaves change. The vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow create a stunning backdrop for hikers and cyclists. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it an enjoyable time to explore the trail. Fall also brings various events and festivals to the area, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and traditions.

It is important to note that the Harlem Valley Rail Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. This is primarily due to safety concerns caused by snow and ice accumulation. The trail is not maintained during this time, making it unsuitable for most outdoor activities. However, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts may find the trail to be a winter wonderland, provided they have the necessary equipment and experience.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County are during the spring and fall seasons. These periods offer pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and a range of outdoor activities. However, it is essential to check for any seasonal closures, particularly during the winter months, to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, providing easy access for wheelchair users.
2. Accessible Trail Entrance: The trail entrance is designed to be accessible for individuals using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.
3. Paved Surface: The trail is paved, ensuring a smooth and accessible surface for wheelchair users.
4. Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available along the trail, equipped with features such as grab bars and wider doorways.
5. Picnic Areas: Wheelchair-accessible picnic areas are provided along the trail, allowing individuals to enjoy outdoor dining comfortably.
6. Benches: Wheelchair-accessible benches are strategically placed along the trail, providing resting spots for individuals with mobility challenges.
7. Signage: Clear and visible signage is installed along the trail, including braille and tactile elements, to assist individuals with visual impairments.
8. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available at various points along the trail, ensuring hydration for all users.
9. Trail Loops: The trail offers accessible loop options, allowing wheelchair users to enjoy different sections of the trail without encountering barriers.
10. Accessible Trailhead Facilities: The trailhead facilities, including information kiosks and visitor centers, are designed to be accessible for all individuals, including those with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Trail Conditions: Check for any trail closures or maintenance work before heading out to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
2. Weather Awareness: Be prepared for changing weather conditions and dress accordingly to stay comfortable and safe.
3. Trail Etiquette: Respect other trail users by following proper etiquette, such as yielding to pedestrians and keeping pets on a leash.
4. Stay Alert: Pay attention to your surroundings, including other trail users, road crossings, and potential hazards.
5. Use Proper Lighting: If using the trail during low-light conditions, ensure you have proper lighting to enhance visibility and safety.
6. Share the Trail: Be mindful of other users, including cyclists, walkers, joggers, and equestrians, and share the trail responsibly.
7. Road Crossings: Exercise caution when crossing roads along the trail, obey traffic signals, and be aware of oncoming vehicles.
8. Hydration: Carry enough water to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather or longer excursions.
9. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
10. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a cell phone, identification, and any necessary medical supplies in case of emergencies.
11. Wildlife Awareness: Respect the natural habitat and wildlife along the trail, keeping a safe distance and not feeding or disturbing them.
12. Buddy System: Consider hiking or biking with a friend or in a group for added safety and enjoyment.
13. Trail Maps: Familiarize yourself with the trail map and have a copy with you to navigate and stay on the designated path.
14. First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers for minor injuries.
15. Stay on the Trail: Stick to the designated trail to avoid potential hazards and protect the surrounding environment.
16. Bike Safety: Wear a helmet, follow traffic rules, and ensure your bike is in good working condition before riding on the trail.
17. Be Respectful: Respect private property adjacent to the trail, avoid littering, and leave no trace of your visit.
18. Trail Access Points: Familiarize yourself with the trail access points and parking areas to plan your visit effectively.
19. Trail Hours: Be aware of the trail’s operating hours and plan your activities accordingly.
20. Report Issues: If you encounter any safety concerns or maintenance issues on the trail, report them to the appropriate authorities for prompt resolution.

Conservation Notes

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County, New York, holds a significant conservation status due to its role in preserving and protecting the natural environment and wildlife habitats. The trail is situated within the Harlem Valley, a region known for its diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity. As a result, the conservation efforts surrounding the rail trail are of utmost importance to maintain the ecological balance of the area.

The conservation status of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail is primarily focused on preserving the surrounding forests, wetlands, and water bodies. These habitats provide crucial shelter and resources for a wide range of plant and animal species. Efforts are made to protect and restore these natural areas, ensuring the survival of native flora and fauna. Additionally, the trail’s conservation status includes measures to prevent soil erosion and maintain water quality, as it runs alongside several streams and rivers.

Conservation initiatives along the Harlem Valley Rail Trail also aim to promote sustainable land use practices. This involves managing invasive species, controlling pollution, and minimizing human impact on the surrounding environment. By implementing these measures, the trail helps to maintain the integrity of the natural landscape and ensures the long-term viability of the ecosystems it traverses. Overall, the conservation status of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County reflects a commitment to preserving the region’s natural heritage and fostering a harmonious coexistence between humans and the environment.

Leave a Comment