Last Updated:      July 12, 2014

Length:                Wallkill Valley Rail Trail; 21.5 miles

Difficulty:            Moderate. Flat rail trail with hard packed cinder, dirt, gravel or grass. A mountain bike is recommended.                            


To start from New Paltz; From I-87 (New York State Thruway) take exit 18 to Route 299 west into New Paltz. Just before crossing over the Wallkill River Bridge, take a right onto Hunter St and another right into the parking lot. The trail is located on the opposite side of the old Train station.

To Start from Ulster [North]; From I-87 take exit 19 to I-587 E to its end. Continue straight onto Route 32 (Broadway) and then right (Henry St) continuing along Route 32. Left on Fair St/right on Blvd (still Route 32). After 1.2 miles turn right on Rockwell Lane and you'll come to the trail and parking lot.

To start from the Limewater Kiln parking lot [North]; From I-87 (New York State Thruway) take exit 18 to Route 299 west into New Plats. Cross Readout Creek and take a left onto Main St (Route 213). Travel less then a mile and turn right up Limewater Rd. The parking area will be on the left after less then 1/2 mile.

To start from Gardiner [South]; From I-87 (New York State Thruway) take exit 18 to Route 299 west into New Plats. Take Route 32 south and turn right onto Route 44 west into Gardiner center where the trail crosses the road. Parking is available here.

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail runs along the former rail bed of the Wallkill Valley Railroad. In the late 19th century, the Wallkill Valley Railroad ferried fresh produce and vegetables from the farmlands of Ulster County to the streets of New York City. It also served as a commuter railroad for passengers traveling along the Hudson Valley. 

The trail is divided into Northern and Southern Sections emanating from New Paltz. The northern section heads towards Rosendale & Kingston and travels a more wooded path then the southern section, which travels towards Gardiner & Walden and is more open with scenic vistas. The northern section has two very scenic trestle crossings; the first crosses the Wallkill River and a second "not to be missed" 940 foot trestle crosses 150 feet above Readout Creek with fantastic vistas. The northern section from New Paltz starts out with some rough gravel sections and then becomes smoother as it travels along compacted dirt and cinder, while the southern section is smoother overall, but with many different trail surfaces ranging from stone dust to hard packed dirt and cinder to single and double track grass lined surfaces. You can also access the Walden-Wallkill Rail Trail from the end of the southern section via an on-road detour and along an undeveloped section of the old rail bed into Wallkill. In the center of New Paltz you can access the River to Ridge Trail. For more information visit; WALLKILL VALLEY RAIL TRAIL and RIVER TO RIDGE TRAIL .

The Northern Section is part of the Empire State Trail , which will be a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.

Note: Parts of the rail trail are getting a makeover in 2019. The Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT), in partnership with Open Space Institute will be conducting trail work starting this year, which will impact use and accessibility of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail between the northern border of New Paltz and the southern border of the City of Kingston, in the towns of Rosendale and Ulster. The work will include re-grading, ditching and re-shaling the surface as well as widening the shoulders of the Rail Trail and making much-need repairs and upgrades to six road crossings and three bridges. Other improvements include signage installation and parking area access upgrades. Widening the Rail Trail will involve clearings some trees and vegetation. The goal is to make the trail safer and more enjoyable for users.

WVLT will be sharing updates on construction areas and temporary closures of the Rail Trail on our website, social media channels and on the trail as they are scheduled. Stay tuned!

Starting from the Limewater Kiln parking lot; Check out the brick & stone cement kilns located at the back of the parking lot.

Cement rock was first discovered in the region in 1825 at High Falls by engineers working on the Delaware and Hudson Canal. Prior to this time hydraulic cement used in the construction of the canal had been imported from Madison County, New York. Found to be a more high quality grade, High Falls cement was quarried and burned for use in the canal. Other quarrying sites, at Lawrenceville, Hickory Bush, Whiteprint, and Rosendale, opened in ensuing years. The Rosendale Cement Works near Limewater employed 5,000 workers and produced 4,000,000 barrels of cement a year at the peak of its activity at the turn of the century. Rosendale cement was used in the Brooklyn Bridge, the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Treasury Building, as well as in many other structures around the country. The development of Portland cement in 1920 marked the decline of the Rosendale Cement Works. Population of the region dwindled by the 1940's and rail service was reduced. Rosendale quarrying pits and cement kilns were located just north of the Rosendale railroad station and south of the Fifth Limewater Lake. One of the distinctive features of the local landscape is a chain of five small lakes known as Limewater, numbered one through five, north to south.

From the parking lot cross Limewater Rd to a gravel trail. This will bring you up to the rail bed and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

Heading North:

Heading North (left) the hard packed dirt and gravel trail travels just above Limewater Rd to your left and a high ridge along your right. After crossing a bridge look right towards the base of this ridge where you can still spot the mines used to extract the cement. Cross Breezy Hill Rd where the trail continues between Limewater Rd and the Limewater Lane parking lot. Signboard located here. You'll pass by the remnants of a cement works (informational sign) before coming to a large signboard in the middle of the trail 0.8 miles. This is the start of the Williams Lake Project section. The trail heads right off the rail bed following the power lines. At 1.1 miles you'll return to the rail bed which consists of a short grass section. Informational signs are located along the trail. To your left is Williams Lake (Fifth Lake) [Private Property]. Head back into the woods passing through the Williams Lake property. More Cement Works remnants scatted along the trail as the woods get thicker. You'll pass by several old quarrying pits. You'll travel above Forth Lake before passing by another old quarrying pit. On a hot day these old mines allow cool air to flow up onto the trail. It will feel like you are passing by an A/C. After crossing a small berm between a marsh you'll leave the Williams Lake Project section. Here you'll find a map board. Cross Hickory Bush Rd where the trail is a bit narrower and less developed. At 3 miles you cross back over Hickory Bush Rd (Use Caution; Blind Curve) to a separated trail that takes you underneath I-87. Just out of the tunnel the trail picks back up on your left. Cross Dewitt Mills Rd at 3.7 miles and travel underneath a transmission line at 4.6 miles. Cross Rockwell Lane at 5.8 miles where you can still spot some of the old RR tracks embedded in the road. 

Note; Head right to the intersection of Route 32 and Rockwell Lane for a Parking Lot.

Here the rail trail becomes single track before ending after 6 miles at Route 32 (Boulevard) in Kingston. The rail bed disappears here. Kingston has plans to develop their section of the trail which will connect into the future Kingston Point Rail Trail.

Heading South:

Heading South (right) the hard packed dirt and gravel trail travels along the ridge. After only a mile you'll come to the Rosendale RR Trestle. This restored 940 foot trestle bridge crosses 150 feet above Readout Creek with wide open vistas of the surrounding hills. Cross Mountain Rd where you'll find a map board before passing through a small rock cut and re-entering the woods. The trail surface is hard packed cinder. Mile markers are placed every 0.5 miles. There is a brief split in the trail which then merges back together. At 1.9 miles you'll pass by the RAIL TRAIL CAFE before crossing a bridge over River Rd. At 3.4 miles you come to a road crossing and the New Paltz section of the trail. Signboards are located at all road crossings with the name of the road and a map on the back. At about 3.5 miles, the trail widens, but also becomes rougher with its gravel base. After crossing over Craig wood Rd at 4.1 miles, there are more open fields and a nice view of the ridgeline on your right. Use caution when crossing over Springtown Rd at 5 miles as there is no cross-walk. Just after crossing this road you come to the Wallkill River Bridge. There are built in benches and a great view. The trail then heads back into the woods along a berm. After crossing another road you'll see an old remnant of the railroad on the left. It's a pole that says "measured mile" on one side and 1 mile on the opposite. You'll pass two more of these poles for a mile and a mile. After crossing over Huguenot St at 6.1 miles there will be a platform on the right overlooking a marsh. Another old railroad remnant will come at 6.4 miles, an old Whistle Stop marker on the left. The trail is now residential as it crosses Millbury St at 6.8 miles and is paved, although not in the best shape. The trail then passes by the old New Paltz Train Station as it enters downtown and crosses over Main St (Route 299) at 7.3 miles. 

Note; Heading right along Route 299 over the river leads to the River to Ridge Trail. I haven't checked out this trail yet.

The Wallkill River is down to the right, although the trail soon pulls away from it. After crossing Plains Rd at 7.6 miles, the trail surface reverts to crushed stone. A meandering stream is now on your right and power lines are up to your left. The trail surface alternates between crushed stone, stone-dust and single and double track grass lined. The trail is more open and thus less shaded. You cross over a creek at 9.1 miles with good views of the ridgeline and pass through an apple orchard at 9.6 miles. Cross a bridge over Forest Glen Rd at 11.1 miles. At 12.7 miles the trail is nice stone-dust as it takes you into Gardiner at 13 miles where the trail crosses Main St (Route 44). Parking and food is available here. After crossing Sand hill Rd at 14.1 miles, the trail narrows and turns into a single or double track grass lined surface. The trail then ends after 15.5 miles at Dennison Road

Note; An on-road detour is necessary to connect to an undeveloped section of the rail bed further south because a correctional facility has been erected on a portion of the old rail bed. From there, you can then connect to the paved Walden-Wallkill Rail Trail. Turn right along Dennison Rd and then a left when you reach Sand Hill Rd. At the end of this road turn left along Galesville Rd and merge straight onto River Rd. When the road turns to gravel by McKendrick Rd to your left head right to rejoin the old rail trail after 2.3 miles. See; Walden-Wallkill Rail Trail .