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Easy Walking Trails in Dutchess County

Date Published: April 12, 2022

One of the best ways to enjoy Dutchess County's scenic beauty is by foot. Some may think hiking means a racing heart rate and challenging trails, but truth is Dutchess has paths for individuals of all experience levels. Enjoy a stroll on one of these easy-going trails with no shortage of spectacular views.  

William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail 

The Dutchess Rail Trail is a 13.4-mile rail trail that stretches from the former Hopewell Junction train depot, north to the Poughkeepsie entrance of the Walkway Over the Hudson. It's a shared use rail trail open for pedestrians and bicyclers. In addition, it's also a part of the newly opened Empire State Trail, which stretches from New York City to Canada.

The trail is mainly flat and a great option for adults and children. On a clear day, you'll often see dogs getting excercise alongside their owners. A sanded trail provides the perfect path for running, while the central portion of the Dutchess Rail Trail is wheelchair-accessible. Highlights include gorgeous views of popular fishing spot Morgan Lake, treks over converted railroad bridges and Veterans Memorial Mile, a wooded stretch of the trail with signage honoring the military's five branches.

Walkway Over the Hudson State Park with pedestrians in Poughkeepsie

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

The Walkway Over the Hudson is the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge, spanning 1.28 miles over the Hudson River. Head to this one-of-a-kind destination for panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscape. The Walkway is accessible from the Poughkeepsie side. It is completely flat, and a wonderful place to take a stroll and soak in Dutchess County. 

An electric tram—which seats 12 passengers—is regularly available for visitors with limited mobility. The wheelchair-accessible tram runs on a continuous loop on weekends.

Harlem Valley Rail Trail Friends Walking in Fall

Harlem Valley Rail Trail

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is a paved rail trail on an abandoned portion of the New York and Harlem Railroad. Find this path just north of the hamlet of Wassaic—which has its own Metro-North train station. Once you reach Millerton, head into town for its assortment of eateries, cafes and shops.

This 26-mile rail trail even extends north into Columbia County, offering access to the Taconic State Park. This scenic destination for walkers, runners and cyclists alike often sees native wildlife such as ducks, beavers and foxes.

Beacon Long Dock Park View of Hudson River

Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park / Beacon Riverfront Trail

Once a vital rail link, Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park is now a people-pleasing riverfront destination. This popular spot provides access to Beacon’s Riverfront Trail—a beautiful nature walk along the Hudson River with trails sprawling into Denning’s Point. You won't find any strenuous inclines here, as the trail remains flat throughout.

On a warm day, grab lunch or dinner in town and bring it to Long Dock for a lovely waterside picnic. It's a favorite spot to launch kayaks, walk dogs, watch local birds and explore rehabilitated wetlands. Plus, this peaceful park sits just a five-minute stroll away from Beacon's train station.

Poets’ Walk Park 

Poets' Walk Park is intended to celebrate the connection between landscape and poetry. The 120-acre park features miles of trails through woods with rustic pavilions, bridges and benches. It was designed around 1850 as a series of outdoor rooms between two nearby estates. Notable writers like Washington Irving and Fitz-Greene Halleck have enjoyed contemplative strolls here.

A great hike for beginners, it offers beautiful sprawling views of he Hudson River. The Red Hook destination's standout pavilions evoke Romantic era design, and offer incredible places to take photos during golden hour.

Bowdoin Park

Stroll along more than four miles of well-maintained trails at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls. View the wetland areas from the boardwalks, observe the wildlife or sit on a bench and enjoy the surrounding beauty. There are some slight inclines, but overall this park is a great option for hikers of all experience levels. Of course, the cross country course is an excellent choice for those looking to increase their mileage. 

Dover Stone Church Walking Path

Dover Stone Church

Dover Stone Church makes you feel like you’ve stepped out of Dutchess County and into another world. Start off making your way across a long field, and then find yourself on a wooded, lush adventure. This short walk leads you to the Stone Church, a natural sight to see! The entrance of this cave resembles a cathedral with a waterfall flowing through it. It was once the hiding place of indigenous warriors. Although there are some rocky surfaces, this walk is generally easy and for all experience levels. Be sure to bundle up, as it can be quite cool inside the cave.

Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary
Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary in Stanfordville, NY; Photo: @pondridgeny

Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary

Anyone looking to reconnect with nature should plan a walk through Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary in Stanfordville. Just below Pine Plains, this diverse landscape offers an entire world to explore on foot. Take to the trails for six miles of woodland walking. The sanctuary is home to over 80 species of birds, including the Great Blue Heron, Great Horned Owl, American Woodcock and more. 

Vassar College Ecological Preserve Trails in Poughkeepsie
Vassar College Ecological Preserve in Poughkeepsie, NY; Photo: @hidden.hudson.valley

Vassar College Farm and Ecological Preserve

Even though Vassar College Farm and Ecological Preserve is well known for its cross-country trails, it's an excellent destination for leisurely strolls three seasons out of the year. Their expansive network of marked trails takes visitors past forests, wetlands, streams and ponds. Appalachian oak-hickory woods and several specials of wildflowers set the scene for memorable jaunts into nature. Plus, visit Vassar's website before visiting to download audio tours and other useful resources to explore the world around you.

Hyde Park Trail System 

Make your next outdoor excursion a history walk through Hyde Park. The charming town's trail system extends for 34 miles through state and national parks. In fact, visitors can use the HPT system to walk from the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site to the Vanderbilt Mansion for breathtaking Hudson River views. Conversely, history buffs can take the 1.8-mile Farm Lane trail from FDR's Springwood estate to Eleanor Roosevelt's quaint Val-Kill cottage. For more trail highlights, click here. 

In addition to these great walking paths, don't forget about Dutchess County's Historical Sites. Although tours are currently not being offered, most still have their grounds open for visitors. Browse Historical Sites in Dutchess County here. Please inquire ahead to confirm ground hours.

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