If you have ever been to the Wassaic train station, which is the farthest north that Metro North travels, you may have seen the sign for the Rail Trail (above). The trail is a paved pathway for walkers and bikers (bicycles), that begins at the train station, then heads up the eastern side of Dutchess County before heading into Columbia County. There are currently 16 miles of completed trail stretching from the trail head in Wassaic to Orphan Farm Road in Copake.
The Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association (HVRTA) hopes to eventually create a 42-mile unbroken path that extends all the way to Chatham. As of now, there are three breaks in the trail: from Chatham to Hillsdale; between Millerton Station and under Mountain Road; and from Black County Road to Orphan Farm Road in Copake. The HVRTA just announced that two bids for the trail’s completion came in under budget, so it looks like the project will be moving forward.
To the right is a map that details the existing rail trail, and the ultimate completed trail.
You don’t have to hop on a plane at Albany to head to the Islands. Nantucket Island, is a short drive, and ferry trip away from Columbia County.It’s about a 3.5 hour drive to Hyannis, MA, where you can catch a ferry. There’s the traditional ferry, which is a large boat with multiple decks, a cafeteria, and plenty of comfy seating. That boat takes a little over two hours, and is my preferred way to go. If you are in a rush, and want something a little faster, check out the fast ferry, which leaves from the same port. This is a smaller boat, and generally more crowded, but cuts the travel time down to one hour.
Both ferries take the same route, which brings you past the Nantucket lighthouse, and into the harbor.
Once on shore, you will be in the island’s historic town, which is like traveling back in time, but with modern shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. There are also walking tours of the historic town, and a night time ghost tour. The small town also has a movie theater, a museum, and a beautiful library in the historic Atheneum building, which are always nice for a rainy day.
You can spend plenty of time, and money, shopping in town, but the real drawl of the island are the beaches that surround it. Pick up a free map on the ferry, which shows the locations of beaches, and bike trails to reach them. Each beach is a little different. The closer to town the beach is, the more crowded it might get. If you head out to Madaket, end your day with a sunset viewing drink at Millies. In Siasconset, look for The Summer House Bistro below the cliff.
Here are a few helpful tips for your visit.
1. You don’t need a car on Nantucket, in fact, bike’s are a much better way to get around, and see the island. You’ll find bike rentals on the island, on the road leading from the ferry, into town. There is plenty of parking in Hyannis, and the ferry provides free shuttle service to/from the outlying lots.
2. The traditional ferry is $37.00 for an adult round trip ticket. No reservations required, unless you want to bring your car to the island.
The fast ferry is $69.00 for one adult round trip. Reservations are recommended.
For more information or to book a fast ferry reservation, visit The Steamship Authority site, by clicking here.
3. Plan to spend at least a weekend, which is still not enough time. There are B&Bs, and hotels on the island, plus a large offering of vacation rental homes. Rentals tend to rent on a weekly basis (Saturday to Saturday).
4. Nantucket is expensive, so save up before you set sail.
Looking for a national park in your area or beyond? L.L. Bean has a handy map feature for locating National Parks. The L.L.Bean ParkFinder is a database of all Federal and State Managed Public Lands throughout the United States. In addition to showing you the park locations, and providing directions, the ParkFinder also include seasonal tips and suggested outdoor activities.
ALBANY — New York state is getting nearly $150 million in federal transportation funding aimed at upgrading passenger service in Amtrak’s Empire Corridor.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says more than $91 million will go toward adding a 17-mile second track between Albany and Schenectady, where the existing single track owned by CSX is shared by Amtrak and freight trains.
Another $58 million will fund track and platform improvements at the Albany-Rensselaer and Schenectady stations, as well as the relocation of signal wires on the Hudson Line south of Albany.
The projects are part of the state’s effort to boost high-speed rail service in New York, including trains traveling between Albany and the Buffalo region.
Construction on the projects is expected to start in late summer 2012.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
I just got around to reading the profile piece of Hyde Park, NY, in the August 4 issue of The New York Times. The article, The Exurbs, Too, Appreciate an Oasis, by Elsa Brenner, is a great look at this beautiful area in Dutchess County.