With obesity rates on the rise, there’s no time to waste in kick-starting an exercise routine for your entire family. That’s why a day out on the bike trail with the kids is a great way to spend time together and boost your exercise levels too. Don’t know where to go? These are the best trails for a bike ride in the Hudson Valley.
Orange Heritage Trailway
This 11-mile trail from Goshen to Monroe is perfect for young kids who may still be riding with training wheels – the entire length is paved and flat for a smooth ride. The trail does get congested in the warmer months, however, so keep an eye on little ones who are unsteady on their new wheels. Discover wonderful scenery as you pass by farm fields, flowing streams, and shaded woods along the former Erie Railroad. For a map visit www.orangecountygov.com or call 845-615-3830.
Did you know? When you reach the train station depot halfway between Goshen and Monroe, you’re in historic downtown Chester. Make a pit stop here for frozen yogurt at the ice cream shop.
Access points: Off Church Street, behind Berkshire Bank in Goshen; at old train depot in downtown Chester; opposite Crane Park in Monroe
Hudson Valley Rail Trail
The paved Hudson Valley Rail Trail stretches less than 3 miles along Black Creek from Lloyd to Highland. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at Tony Williams Park at one end (with pavilions and restrooms!) or check out the old train caboose at the other end. For a map and year-round events on the trail, visit www.hudsonvalleyrailtrail.net.
Did you know? The trail will lead you to the newly completed Walkway Over the Hudson pedestrian bridge over the Hudson River when it is completed this fall (www.walkway.org).
Access points: Tony Williams Park on Riverside Road in Lloyd; New Paltz Rd. in Highland
Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
Because this Rosendale to Gardiner trail is largely unpaved, it is better suited to older riders who can handle their bike on uneven, loose stone surfaces. The 12-mile trail offers some fantastic views of horse farms, mountain vistas, and even a cool railroad trestle in Rosendale, so don’t forget the camera! Find a map at www.gorailtrail.com.
Did you know? If you run into a mechanical problem with your bike, you’ll find two bike shops right on the rail trail: Bicycle Depot in New Paltz (bicycledepot.com) and Lightsey Cycles in Gardiner (www.lightseycycles.com).
Access points: Sojourner Truth Park on Plains Road in New Paltz; Ulster BOCES Center off Route 32 North in New Paltz; municipal parking off Farmer’s Turnpike in Gardiner; off Mountain Road in Rosendale
Wallkill to Walden Rail Trail
The newest rail trail in Ulster County is on Route 208 in the village of Wallkill and extends to Walden. Just 3 miles long, this paved route, also known as the Jesse McHugh Rail Trail, offers a great ride for little legs (not too long!). For information call 845-895-2611.
Did you know? The grand opening ceremony is May 2, with special events on both ends of the trail in Wallkill and Walden.
Access points: Route 208 in village of Wallkill; Wooster Grove Park in Walden
Harlem Valley Rail Trail
This nearly 11-mile paved trail on the abandoned New York Central Railroad line runs through the countryside from Wassaic to Millerton. Can’t make it the 22-mile round trip? Pick a shorter route along the way: it’s 2.6 miles from Wassaic to Amenia, 4.5 miles from Amenia to Coleman Station, and 3.6 miles from Coleman Station to Millerton. Visit hvrt.org for a map or call 518-789-9591.
Did you know? When completed, the trail will be 46 miles long, extending from the Wassaic train station to Copake Falls in Columbia County.
Access points: Metro North train station in Wassaic; Mechanic Street in Amenia; Coleman Station in town of North East; South Center Street in Millerton
Dutchess Rail Trail
This new 2-mile trail stretches from Route 376 to Lake Walton Road in East Fishkill. When completed in 2011 (or maybe earlier), the paved trail along the former Penn Central Railroad will total 11 miles from East Fishkill to Poughkeepsie. Visit dutchesscountytrails.com or call 845-298-4600.
Did you know? The next section, from Morgan Lake to Overocker Road in Poughkeepsie, is expected to be completed this summer. Get your bike ready!
Access points: Route 376 and Lake Walton Road in East Fishkill For more trails in your area, visit Parks & Trails New York at www.ptny.org.
Best spots for mountain biking with the kids
Does your child prefer the challenges of mountain biking? There are plenty of hills to be conquered in the Hudson Valley. Here are just a few, suitable for younger riders on knobby tires.
- Minnewaska State Park
Located off Rte. 44/55 in New Paltz. Forty miles of carriage roads on the Shawangunk Ridge offer fairly easy riding, with long, manageable climbs. Just beware of loose rock or exposed bedrock, which can become slippery when wet. Helmets are required for all riders. www.nysparks.state.ny.us / 845-256-0579
- Mohonk Preserve
Located off Rte. 44/55 in New Paltz, bordering Minnewaska State Park. Like Minnewaska, the trails are mostly dirt carriage roads for easy riding. Helmets are mandatory. www.mohonkpreserve.org/ 845-255-0919
- James Baird State Park
This Pleasant Valley park is another great spot for novice riders. Three miles of trails on rolling terrain can be challenging; look out for roots and rocks. nysparks.state.ny.us/ 845-452-1489
- Stewart International Airport Buffer Zone
This 7,000-acre state-owned land off Rte. 207 in New Windsor includes some wider roads, but is mostly narrow single-track trails with a few difficult hills. Best for more experienced riders, but has a little something for all abilities. www.sparc.info
Located off Rte. 44/55 in New Paltz. Forty miles of carriage roads on the Shawangunk Ridge offer fairly easy riding, with long, manageable climbs. Just beware of loose rock or exposed bedrock, which can become slippery when wet. Helmets are required for all riders. / 845-256-0579