After our bike ride in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, we drove three hours northeast to Poughkeepsie, New York. We arrived in Poughkeepsie about 6:15 PM and drove directly to the Leisure Ride Bike Shop (excellent customer service and well-maintained, quality bikes) where we rented two KHS Brentwood comfort bikes and a rack for our next day’s ride on the Hudson Valley Trail Network. The 18-mile Network is comprised of three paved trails: the Dutchess Rail Trail (13 miles), Walkway over the Hudson (1.3 miles), and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail (3.6 miles). Our original plan was to ride across the Hudson to the northern terminus of the trail and back the same evening as we rented the bikes to reduce the amount that we would have to ride the following day. However, we found out that the Walkway over the Hudson closes at 8 PM (time adjusts with sunset), and if you do not make it back across the pedestrian bridge before the gates close on the west side, you have to bike south and cross the Hudson on the car bridge. Based on this new information, we decided to wait until the following morning to bike the whole trail down and back, which would be a total of 36 miles.
The bike owner personally helped us secure the rack and bikes onto our rental car, then we drove to Mill House Brewing for dinner. We ordered a pizza and discussed how to adjust our schedule for the following day. I highly recommend this two-story, warehouse brewery; the food was excellent, and the service was quick even though they were extremely busy. Following dinner, we drove to the Holiday Inn Express to spend the night.
We ate an early breakfast at the hotel, including one of their decadent cinnamon rolls, and then drove back to the Leisure Ride Bike Shop to park our car. The shop was not open yet; that’s why we rented the bikes the previous evening. We unloaded the bikes and pedaled a few hundred feet to the entrance of the trail. Although the trail passes through several hamlets, it felt fairly isolated. We crossed three iron bridges over highways on the 6.5 mile stretch from the bike shop to the Walkway over the Hudson.
The 1.3 mile Walkway over the Hudson River is the longest pedestrian walkway in the world. As we approached the bridge, we noticed that pedestrians are supposed to walk along the outer sides while bicyclists are supposed to ride in the center – a recommendation which definitely improved the flow of traffic across the bridge. It was approximately 9 AM, and there were about 100 people on the bridge; however, there were noticeably more walkers and joggers than cyclists. We stopped several times to take photographs and then made our way to the other side where we biked 3.6 miles to the northwestern terminus of the trail.
The trail was extremely well maintained with restroom facilities, mile markers every .5 mile, and numerous benches and picnic tables. This more isolated portion of the trail was tree canopied with a few rock outcroppings, and it reminded us of the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia.
The ride down to the end of the trail and back to the bridge took about an hour, including a quick bathroom stop. As we entered the bridge, the sun was in front of us and I was thankful that I was wearing my sunglasses. It took only about 10 minutes to bike across the Hudson. After exiting the bridge on the eastern side, we continued down the trail past where we had parked our rental car and pedaled on to the southern terminus in Hopewell Junction. Although we had read that this portion of the trail crossed several roads and was more urban, it was unexpectedly remote as soon as we passed the outskirts of Poughkeepsie. I enjoyed the wild flowers and the variety of trees bordering the trail. This stretch was not as crowded and seemed slightly downhill.
We arrived in White Haven sooner than we expected and decided to eat lunch at Daddy O’s, a New York chain restaurant located almost in sight of the restored train depot and museum marking the end of the Dutchess Trail. After a satisfying lunch (turkey & avocado sandwich with fries and a coke), we biked 6.5 miles back to the bike shop where our rental car was parked and returned our bikes before driving back to New York City for our flight home to Atlanta.