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As a Hillsdale resident, I just love a new section of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail that opened up recently, heading south from the Hillsdale, NY hamlet, for 1.5 miles to the river, the Roeliff Jansen Kill.

map of northern section of Harlem Valley Rail Trail

The new portion of the trail offers visitors more options for hiking and biking, with the added advantage of wonderful views, east towards cultivated farm land and the Berkshire Ridge where Catamount Ski Area is located, and west towards the 800 acre Shagbark Tree Farm.

I walked the trail several times recently, and although I have lived in Hillsdale for thirty years, these views were new to me! Facing East, you see fields that are part of the Roeliff Jansen Park, some of which are cultivated by Markristo Farm, a family owned organic farm, whose products can be found at the Copake Hillsdale Farmer’s market in season. And across those fields is the Roe Jan Library, and the barns at the Roe Jan Park, where the farmer’s market is held on Saturday mornings.

Farms like these are what draw chefs to our region, resulting in many excellent farm to table restaurants. Check my Things to Do page on this website for a list of my favorite restaurants. A good lunch option, after walking or biking the rail trail is Cross Roads Food Shop in the center of Hillsdale, behind the Hillsdale General Store, a great farm to table place for breakfast or lunch.

Facing west when on the rail trail, one sees idyllic views of a large pond and hundreds of acres of young trees growing on Shagbark Farm. Click here to see my video showing a 180 degree view, starting with a farmer plowing the corn field to the east of the trail, then panning north along the trail, and west to views of the tree farm.

I can’t wait until this part of the trail is connected across Route 22 to the Copake Falls section of trail already open. For the time being, you have to drive down Route 22 to the next hamlet south of Hillsdale, Copake Falls, where you can access another 4.2 miles of rail trail. There is also the Depot Deli in what was clearly a former train station, where you may purchase drinks and snacks. This portion of the trail is in Taconic State Park. You can also access other hiking trails from this point, including one along Bash Bish Creek, to the base of Bash Bish Falls. Along with the trails at the Roeliff Jansen Park, a visit to Hillsdale, NY now offers many wonderful opportunities for walking and biking on safe, and beautiful, trails.

See our list of recommended things to do in Columbia County.

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