By Evie Carrick / Travel + Leisure
Rail trails are slowly transforming the way Americans recreate. What were once abandoned and overrun corridors and railways, are now places for people to walk, run, or bike. This renewal of long-forgotten outdoor space is taking place all over the country — from Virginia to Utah — and it’s still gaining steam.
According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a trails advocacy organization, trail use in 2022 was 45 percent higher than it was in 2019. To keep up with the growing number of people who want to access trails and get outside, the conservancy is ramping up their signature project, the Great American Rail-Trail, which will eventually connect 3,700 miles of multi-use trails between Washington, D.C. and Washington State.
The William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail has a stunning finish, with the crossing of the 1.28-mile Walkway Over the Hudson pedestrian bridge (which itself is linked to a regional network of trails). But before you reach the trail’s grand finale, you’ll traverse the towns of Poughkeepsie, LaGrange, Wappinger, and East Fishkill and pass over several creeks and waterways. All told, this continuous paved rail trail, which starts at the Hopewell Depot Trailhead, runs for 13.4 miles and connects with several other trails, including the Morgan Lake Trailhead.