9. Heritage Trail (Orange County rail-trail)

Section 9: Heritage Trail (Orange County rail-trail)

Quick Facts

Distance: 11.4 miles
Parks: Heritage Trail
Maps: Interactive Map, Orange County Heritage Trail Map
Print-Friendly Version: Link

General Description

This section follows the Heritage Trail — a 10-foot wide trail on the right-of-way of the former Erie Railroad. The trail currently extends for 11.85 miles from the Town of Monroe to Hartley Road in the Town of Goshen, near the City of Middletown, and it features sections of both asphalt and limestone surface. It winds through a bird/wildlife sanctuary and passes historic landmarks, murmuring streams, rolling meadows and friendly communities. Trail users may enjoy biking, walking, rollerblading and nature study, as well as shopping and dining in the local villages. Goshen is the picturesque county seat of Orange County, and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame (open seven days a week) is definitely worth a visit.  Access points to the trail are in Monroe, Chester and Goshen, all with convenient parking. There are bicycles for rent in Monroe and in Goshen, and there is a motel in Goshen. The Green Onion, located just off the Heritage Trail in Chester, hosts evening events and a farmers market every Saturday during growing seasons.


Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 16 (Harriman). Proceed west on NY Route17/Interstate 86 for three miles to Exit 129. Turn left on Museum Village Road and turn left again onto Orange and Rockland Road immediately after crossing over Route 17, into a commuter parking lot and Park & Ride.


0.00  Commuter parking lot in Monroe, off Exit 129 on Route 17. (41.34678°, -74.19807°)
4.15  At the Chester Depot Museum in the Village of Chester, off Exit 126 on Route 17. (41.36258°, -74.26969°)
8.30  Parking lot at the end of St. James Place in the Village of Goshen, off Exit 124 on Route 17. (41.40023°, -74.32294°)
11.40  Hartley Road, at the end of this there is aparking area 200 feet south of the trail. (41.40903°, -74.37190°)

Trail Description

0.00  The trail makes a sharp right onto the Heritage Trail, which is an Orange County paved (asphalt) rail-trail.

0.75  The trail crosses underneath Route 17. Just before the next bridge is a small cemetery (Tuthill Cemetery? Oxford Depot Cemetery?) on the right-hand side of the trail.

1.10  The Highlands Trail leaves the rail-trail immediately after passing the cemetery, and continues on Conty Route 51 (Craigville Road). The LP continues on the rail-trail. The trail passes through farmlands.

2.60  The Heritage Trail passes the old Camp LaGuardia. This used to be a New York City homeless shelter, but it is currently being redeveloped.

3.70  Near Chester, there is a black soil district north of the trail, known for its onion farms.

4.15  The trail passes through the Village of Chester, which has eateries and ice cream stores.



Village of Goshen. 2012 [JAKOB FRANKE]

8.30  Reach the end of the paved section of the Heritage Trail in the Village of Goshen. There is a creamery right next to the trail, and there are restaurants, shops and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame (open seven days a week) in town. This museum is well worth a visit. The trail turns right onto St. James Place, then turns left onto South Church Street.

8.50  At the light, the trail crosses Route 207 and follows the second road left (West Main Street) for about 0.5 miles.

9.00  The trail turns sharply right onto a driveway, across from St. John's Cemetery.

9.05  The trail immediately turns sharp left onto the rail-trail, which is paved with crushed limestone at this end.

9.45  The trail crosses underneath Route 17, goes by a sewage treatment plant, then passes by attractive wetlands and ponds.

11.40  The trail reaches Hartley Road, to continue to the next section cross the road and continue on the Heritage Trail.


Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail west of Goshen. 2012 [JAKOB FRANKE]


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PammyJo25's picture

Just want to warn hikers that there are many bikers on the is section. It can be extremely difficult to hear the cyclists warnings in stretches that are close along the RTE 17/6 highway so keep alert and walk single file. I was hit by a cyclist because I was side by side with my hiking buddy & could NOT hear the cyclists warning.
Gedalyamil's picture

Spring has finally sprung in New York, and after taking 3 days away from the LP to catch up on life, I commenced the “Orange County and Shawangunks” region of the Long Path. I plan to hike its 6 segments in 4 consecutive days this week and 2 days next week. I have always thought that this part of New York State is vastly underrated. I cringe when I mention “Orange County” and people assume I am referring to California. How is a city kid like me familiar with the secret treasures of NY’s OC? There have been a number of times when I was stuck in traffic on the Quickway (see below) and Waze or Google Maps diverted me to the local roads. It’s always a treat!! The ‘Black Soil’ region as it’s called has incredible charm in its Victorian homes, the rustic farms, the throw-back scenery, and the ground is amazingly richly dark. My son Bobby who knows almost everything about everything (except how to control his emotions), informed me last week that the soil is dark black from the overflow of the Wallkill River, the Nile of this region. I suppose that’s why the central village here is called “Goshen”, which was a city in Biblical Egypt. Goshen was the home to the ancient Hebrews in the Bible. My ancestors resided there when our patriarch Jacob and his family came down from Israel to reunite with Joseph. I suppose that’s why the neighboring village is called “Florida”. I drove to the commuter parking area at exit 129 of the Rt 17 Quickway for the start. As an aside, do you know why locals refer to Route 17 as the ‘Quickway’? I thought of 3 reasons on our hike today. Reason #1: There are a number of other Route 17’s in the NY metropolitan area. I can understand why there is no “Route 13”. Way too dangerous! But why no Route 14, 15, or 16? Why the fixation to call every other road ‘Route 17’? Hence, the ‘Quickway’ serves to distinguish this from the other regional Route 17s. Reason #2: It’s what we call in Hebrew “Lashon Sagi-Nahor”, which figuratively translates as the language of euphemisms. For example, in Rabbinic literature instead of impolitely saying “He Cursed G-d”, we say “He Blessed God”. The actual term “Sagi-Nahor” means “great light” and is used to describe a blind person. You see, the “Quickway” is anything but “Quick”. If you’re driving downstate on a Sunday afternoon in the Summer you’d know exactly what I mean. There will “Blessings” galore in your car if you ever find yourself in this situation. Reason #3: In 1987 two Indian guys named Teek and Vee opened the ‘Quickway Diner’ at Exit 116 in Bloomingburg. I heard they served a mean Apple Pie!! They used to run Ads on TV on the local channels during Yankee games that had a nice jingle: “Come meet Teek and Vee at the Quickway Diner in Bloomingburg”. It had an unforgettable rhyme. Nobody could get the jingle out of their head in the late-80s and the term ‘Quickway’ stuck. Bobby told me that dudes named Teek and Vee are doing hard time in Sing Sing, for money laundering, but I’m honestly not sure it’s the same people. Someone else told me they moved down to Mexico and are now selling fish tacos in Tijuana. Another interesting factoid about the Quickway is that there are Red White and Blue Interstate signs along the road that proclaim “Future 86”. Don’t hold your breath!!! I first noticed these signs driving up to the mountains with my parents more than 40 years ago. This was probably a central part of Jimmy Carter’s failed infrastructure bill. I was excited at the time to have our local road become an interstate, but the once gleaming signs are now peeling paint. The hike today was brilliant! My 19 y.o. daughter Julia joined me today. She supposedly has special needs and her 90K annual ‘special’ tuition reflects this, but I think it’s a hoax so she can get more attention, accrue adoring friends from around the world, and get away with anything. Her I.Q. is probably around 170 if we actually knew how to measure it. Julia & I walked past meandering creeks and enchanting wetlands with chirping wood-frogs and signing birds, rustic farms with authentic red barns, and elegant downtown Goshen where we stopped for iced coffee on this bright sunny day. On a recent hiking trip out West, my son Bobby and I discussed the most scenic states in the continental US. Of course, the well-deserved usual suspects are CA, UT, AZ, WA, etc. These states all have world-class hiking and great natural beauty. However, NY is the clear #1 east of the Mississippi in my opinion. It has an abundance of diverse and amazingly beautiful regions. Today’s hike just confirmed that impression. My wife Annie was supposed to pick us up. She had everything planned out. She would go shopping at Woodbury Commons (see my entry on Segment 7 of the LP) and then pick Julia and me up when we reached the terminus on Hartley road. The shopping part worked out apparently (I just saw the bill). However, when I called the extraction team to get my wife out of Off 5th, our signals got crossed. Julia and I wound up taking a cab back to our car. Thankfully, there was no traffic on the Quickway.
Sheila F.'s picture

Hike 8 will have to wait as my partner/bff today needs a flat walked so we jumped ahead to the Heritage Trail. The ground was icy this morning but the afternoon sun took care of it. We walked to Chester, very charming, walked around the little town, had lunch, then walked back to Monroe. On the way back we did a side hike in the nature sanctuary, very worthwhile...varied terrain, running streams. We explored the Oxford Depot Cemetery. We were flanked byfarmlands with horses, cows and huge pigs. We were greeted by friendly dogs and swooped upon by a bat!! For 2 Long Island and NYC chicks this was comical. We protected ourselves with sticks and whistle blowing. Probably not the best bat deterrent as they navigate the world through sound! Our strategy for the next part of the Heritage Trail is to park in Chester and bike to Mountain Road and back, about 45 miles total. Will get to Hike 8 on the next possible day. This is so much fun. Thank you, NYNJTC!