New Paltz North : Rail Trail + Roads

Route on both Roads and on 
the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
 

  • Where:  north side of New Paltz, NY -- along the Wallkill River in Ulster County.
     
  • 15 miles.  Mostly flat.  Half on an unpaved "rail trail" mostly off-road.  The other half on roads.  

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Another option is to do it all on the rail trail, both out and return -- about 14 miles off-road.

Or for a longer route, combine this one with the New Paltz South - Rail Trail route, for a total of 32 miles, mostly flat. 

see also: 
 - [ more routes around New Paltz
 - [ Map of Gentler Places around New Paltz ] - [ other Gentler Places
 - [ other Shorter routes

  • Highlights:  riding on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, an abandoned railroad bed which is unpaved but firm -- a quiet trail mostly off-road.  The rail trail has a special ending:  a bridge high above a creek with fine views.  The road used for the return has beautiful farms and views of the Shawangunk ridge.  Historic stone houses near the start of the route -- and a variety of entertainments in New Paltz.  
     
  • Characteristics -- rail trail:  the railroad bed is unpaved but firm, and mostly flat.  Wider tires are recommended, say at least 1.25 inch.  As long as conditions are dry, there is usually not much need for a large tread pattern or "knobby" tires -- and smoother tires will enable you to go faster and easier on the road sections. 

Two ways that an unpaved rail trail is different from a paved public car road:   (1) If it has rained recently, sections of the rail trail could be soft and muddy -- which means that it may be difficult to ride, and it would not be surprising if you ended up with lots of mud sprayed off the wheels onto your clothing, and (2) Without regular road maintenance, it can be more likely for various unexpected obstacles to arise, which might call for getting off the bike and walking for a section.

Traffic:  The trail itself is off-road, but it intersects with public roads or driveways at several points, some with high-speed vehicle traffic -- so special care is required in detecting, approaching, and crossing those. 

Also, there can be non-motorized users on the path:  walkers, runners, skaters, bicyclists, etc -- sometimes at high speeds, sometimes oblivious to other users, sometimes not following rules or the directions of signs.  Need to take seriously the risk of interactions and collisions with them. 

  • Characteristics -- roads:  There is one significant hill (80 vertical feet) at the start of the road section, then a couple of gentle ones -- the rest of the roads are close to flat.  The section of Springtown Rd (Ulster County Route 7) on the main route has little or no shoulders, but often does not get a lot of car traffic.  Unless you are skilled and comfortable with handling significant traffic in that kind of situation, we suggest avoiding that road at times of higher traffic volume -- such as "rush" hours. 

Variation B:  Unless you are an experienced road rider, we recommend not taking Variation B on the route direction Cue Sheet.  The segment of Ulster County Route 7 between Mountain Rest Rd and Route 299 often get significant motor vehicle traffic.  The section on Route 299 at its south end between Ulster Count Route 7 and Chestnut St / Route 32 definitely is a heavy traffic area, and the Wallkill River bridge is not very wide, and Rt 299 has little or no shoulder. 

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More . . . 

By car from South or North:  NY Thruway to exit 18 (Poughkeepsie / New Paltz).  From the exit, turn Left onto Route 299 West, which is Main St of the village of New Paltz.

By car from the East:  Route 44 West across the Mid-Hudson Bridge, then Route 9W North a couple of miles, and take Route 299 to New Paltz.

The start of the route is just after Main St (Rt 299) crosses Rt 32 (Chestnut St) at a traffic light -- between the Wallkill River bridge and Route 32. 

GPS latitude-longitude = N41.7468,W74.0893 = 41.7468,-74.0893  [on Google Maps]

Parking:  There are lots of options in New Paltz.  What usually works for us is to park about three or four blocks from the Wallkill River bridge, somewhere north of Main St.  Then ride west on Front St / Lenape Lane and/or south on Huguenot St to reach the starting point.

  • Maps for the rail trail and nearby roads are available in several stores in New Paltz, and there is a basic map on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail website.  A county road map for Ulster County could be useful -- but it probably will not show the rail trail (see Road Maps).  
     

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and More . . . 

  • see info + links on Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
     
  • Concept:  The nice thing about basing the route on a rail trail is that it allows riders with little desire (or little capability) to handle the complexities and risks of motorized traffic a way to tailor their route to the degree of traffic-handling they feel comfortable with.  If you find you are not yet skilled for or comfortable with riding a section on the road, you can return to the nearest point where the rail trail crosses the road.   

But before you try out riding on the roads on this route you need to have sufficient skills and ability to assess the risks of road riding.  For more on this, see Risks and Resources.

  • Note -- about the Direction of Route:  The route given in the cue sheet switches back and forth between roads and rail trail more than once.  One reason for this is to handle the biggest hill on the route, which is near the "turn-around" at the North end.  The idea of the route given in the cue sheet is to avoid having to climb up the hill on the road where there might be significant motor vehicle traffic.  So the direction of the route through that hill takes the road section as a downhill, and saves the climb back up the hill for the off-road rail trail. 
     

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