Rail Trail Offers New Options for Hikers

Work has begun to connect Dutchess and Columbia counties with the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.

When the bicycle and walking trail connection is complete in 2020, there will be 23 miles of continuous trail from the Wassaic Train Station in Amenia to the Taconic State Park in Copake Falls.

At the present time, the trail is divided into two separate segments. The gap between Millerton and Copake required bicyclists and pedestrians to walk, run or ride along eight miles of roads, Lisa DeLeeuw, executive director of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, said Monday.

“When the trail is complete in 2020, they won’t have to use the roads,” DeLeeuw said.

The eight miles between Millerton in northeastern Dutchess County and Ancram in southeastern Columbia County is expected to be ready for use in October 2020, according to a statement from the Harlem Valley Rail Trail on Thursday.

The project begins at Main Street (also known as Route 44) in the Village of Millerton. It will follow the former Harlem Valley Rail Line in the Town of Northeast, east of Route 22, and end at Under Mountain Road in the Town of Ancram. Preliminary construction on the connecting trail, including tree clearing, began earlier this month.In addition to bringing bicyclists and pedestrians through majestic scenery of the Upper Hudson Valley, the trail brings people to or close to Columbia County sites, indulging traveling through the Taconic State Park, and near Bash Bish Falls in Copake and the Copake Ironworks, DeLeeuw said.

The project will include 4,100 feet of elevated boardwalks to protect wetland areas along the trail. Six structurally deficient bridges along the trail will be rehabilitated. Trail crossing signs will be will be constructed at intersections, including signs in Columbia County at Under Mountain Road in Ancram.

Funding for the final phase of the project was approved in October 2018 by the Dutchess County Legislature. Approximately $9.3 million of the $14.7 million project is federally-funded.

“Dutchess County will pay the local share of work within Dutchess County and Columbia County and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation have agreed to fund the local share of the Columbia County portion of the project,” according to a statement from the Hudson Valley Rail Trail.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.