The Heritage Trail (also known as the Orange Heritage Trail) runs on the old Erie Railroad main line. Fully paved and mostly shaded, it's popular for walking, biking, hiking, jogging and rollerblading. Along the way are historic landmarks, and scenic views through woodlands and farmland. Dining, shops, and accommodations are available in the towns along the trail. (Detailed map and photos below.)
Heritage Trail, NY Biking
Location: Harriman to Middletown (Orange County, NY) (See map)
Distance: 19.5 miles
Surface: Asphalt, 10 feet
Nearby Points of Interest: Legoland, Harriman State Park
Support and Advocacy:
Vision Hudson Valley
We visited the trail from east (Harriman) to west (Middletown), viewing trailheads and riding some sections. The trail is paved, flat or with a gentle slope - an easy ride on any bike, good for families. Some of the road crossings can be busy but most sections are wooded and scenic. There are benches, porta-potties, and fix-it stations provided along the way. Posted 15 mile speed limit.
The trail starts in the Village of Harriman at the intersection of River Rd. and N. Main St. The trailhead has parking and a porta-potty. A path runs along River Rd. for about 350 feet before turning away to the left and crossing an old railroad bridge over a creek. The trail starts here, including a fix-it station, then runs through a pleasant wooded corridor - through not far from surrounding businesses in some areas, it's fully buffered. In 1/2 mile, it enters the Town of Monroe.
From Airplane Park in the Town of Monroe, we biked a section of trail. A short connector runs to the trail and while close to businesses along the way it's well buffered by trees. An underpass runs under Rt. 208. Airplane Park has parking, restroom, playground, jogging trail, and a Korean War Memorial featuring a US Air Force F-86 jet. Once in disrepair, it's been restored as a tribute to Korean War Veterans.
Trivia footnote: Monroe is the birthplace of Velveeta (1918) and Liederkranz (1891) cheeses. The town holds an annual Cheese Festival.
The historic 1915 Erie Railroad Depot (expanding on the 1841 original) in the Town of Chester serves as a trailhead with parking, and now houses a history museum managed by the Chester Historical Society. Located in the historic downtown, an ice cream and other shops and restaurants are nearby.
Some history: Chester is an old town, first settled by Europeans in the early 1700's. Old cemeteries are still being discovered, and Chester has a Chester Cemeteries Protection Law enacted to protect the cemeteries and burial sites from commercial or residential development. Goshen's historic race track was "Home of the Trotter." Hambletonian, the most famous trotter in history was foaled here in 1849. More cheese: Dairy farming was a big industry, and a dairy operation here developed "cream cheese" in the late 1800's, it's still sold today as Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
From the Old Chester Rd. crossing, the trail parallels Rt. 17M with shaded tree canopy to South St. (1.7 miles), passing Legoland along the way - located across Rt. 17M and US 6, it's not directly accessible from the trail. After crossing South St. the trail runs closer to developed areas as a pleasant shaded section popular with locals. The trail ends at St. James Place (about 1/2 mile), where a 4/10 mile route through town takes you through parking lots, crossing a few local roads, until resuming at W. Main St. This is not well marked and can be confusing (see map). Restaurants and shops are nearby.
Upon resuming, the trail is close to but buffered from developed areas. After passing underneath Rt. 17 (3/4 mile), it enters a more remote area. An old railroad box is trailside, and the trail crosses a trestle bridge. A fix-it station and porta-potty are at Hartley Rd. (2 miles), where you enter New Hampton.
From Hartley Rd. the trail follows powerline, then they turn off. This is a scenic section including bridges over the Wallkill River and two creeks. At Echo Lake Rd. (Rt. 50) is a parking area and popular Mason's Marketplace to stop for refreshments and food.
Past Ryerson Rd. at the I-84 underpass, construction along the trail was related to ongoing highway roadwork. The trail parallels McVeigh Rd., with a wooded buffer, to the underpass at Dolsontown Rd. Then it's a more remote ride to Palmer Rd. Nearing Palmer Rd. powerlines reappear - a power station and a housing development are at the intersection. The trail was closed at this point - while it has now been paved and completed into Middletown, on our visit it was still under construction.
As visitors from Florida, we just had to visit nearby Florida, NY. Some of the locals told us that's not unusual - a lot of Floridians come through. An old town, Florida was established in 1760. It's the birthplace of William Henry Seward, N.Y. State Senator and Governor, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, responsible for "Seward's Folly" - the purchase of Alaska in 1867. It also claims Grammy award winner Jimmy Sturr, the "Polka King."
Bike-New York - More bike trails and information about biking in New York State
Orange County NY Parks, Recreation and Conservation - Heritage Trail
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