I love the Hillsdale section of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail which runs south one and a half miles from the Hillsdale, NY hamlet. It opened in 2018 (see my May 2018 blog post), and keeps improving. More benches have been added along with new fencing in some areas and even some art. See my April 18, 2020 Facebook post about the painted rocks that have been added to the trail by a local artist. And the views are lovely. During the COVID-19 shutdown, it has become much more important to me, as exercise and fresh air and sunshine are keeping me sane and healthy!
Often I walk this section to the southern end, which stops at the Black Grocery Road, and then walk out to Undermountain Road and follow it back north to reconnect with the rail trail. This road climbs higher up the ridge, and affords great views overlooking the Shagbark Tree Farm, and up to the Catamount Ski area on the opposite side of the valley. Walking back that route also gives me a longer walk, and some interesting birds and animals to enjoy along the way.
Last fall I enjoyed passing the turkey farm where the dark, wild looking, heritage turkeys (not the white birds commonly raised in commercial production) were enjoying piles of apples that the farmer had provided. The birds are very curious and soon the entire flock had come over to the fence to check me out…and I assume to see if I had brought anything else to eat. Of course you know they were headed for Thanksgiving tables. The farm has been empty over the winter, but I look forward to seeing some young birds there again soon.
Further up the road, I stop to watch the beautiful black and white speckled Randall cattle grazing in the pasture of a small farm along with goats, sheep and various breeds of chickens. This farm lies between the rail trail and Undermountain Road, so you can see the animals while walking south and north again! The Randall Lineback Cattle are an endangered breed developed in Vermont in the 19th century. I had read about a woman named Cynthia Creech, who undertook to save the breed in the late 1980’s. She has indeed rescued the breed, which now numbers over 300, according to an article in my local paper published in 2016, and she raises her cattle right here in Columbia County. Visiting her farm and meeting her are on my bucket list!
So when you are able to come visit the Inn again, be sure to add a walk along this section of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail to your itinerary. Stay well and I look forward to seeing you again soon.