Harlem Valley Rail Trail is a popular 16-mile trail located in Columbia County. It is made up of several paved sections that run along an abandoned railroad and through beautiful farm fields, green rolling hills, and rural areas. These include the Wassaic MTA Station to Amenia Station, Amenia Station to Coleman Station, Coleman Station to Millerton Station, Undermountain Road to Orphan Farm Road, and Black Grocery Road to Hillsdale. All of the sections are open to the public year-round, except for the Millerton Station to Under Mountain Road part, which is still in development.
The Metro-North Station to Amenia Station is around two-and-a-half miles in length -- Armenia Station to Coleman Station is four-and-a-half, while Coleman to Millerton is just a bit over three-and-a-half miles long. Black Grocery Road to Hillsdale, which is partially closed, is approximately five miles.
The Harlem Valley Rail Trail passes through beaver ponds, pastures, meadows that feature grazing horses, trout streams, a waterfall, railroad stations, and reconstructed bridges. The trail features plenty of wildlife, from deer and coyotes to foxes and hawks. It also passes through the towns of Amenia, Millerton and Copake Falls, home to restaurants, gift stores, and public restrooms.
Though the trail is mostly flat, it was built on elevated land that offers stunning views of the surrounding areas. There is plenty of shade along the way; however, bringing a hat and some sunscreen is always recommended on longer hikes. Though there are a few water stations along the trail, it is best to bring your own water bottle and refill along the way. Lastly, don’t forget to bring dog waste bags and clean up after your pooch.
Since the Harlem Valley Rail Trail is wide and fully paved with asphalt, gravel, and crushed stone, it is ideal for hiking, biking, and dog walking. However, dogs need to remain leashed at all times while on the trail. Since the trail runs far from any main roads and features guardrails and signs, it offers both a quiet and safe environment for dog walking. There are several strategically placed benches on the way that allow visitors to take breaks and enjoy stunning viewpoints as they rest.
There are several areas where patrons can park, with a popular destination being the Taconic State Park parking lot. Weekends are very busy, so dog owners have to make sure to arrive early to grab a parking spot and to be prepared to bump into other dogs and owners along the trail.