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Rail Trails and the Old Beacon Line

Stretching from the shores of the Hudson in Beacon, New York 28 miles to Danbury, Connecticut are the overgrown and often forgotten tracks of the old Beacon Line. Were it running today, it would surely hugely impact the commutes of so many who slog their ways to work and home on Rt 84 each day, but as it stands it not only no longer functions as a commuter train track, it has no function whatsoever.

Purchased by Metro North in 1994 for $4.2 million, there was initial talk of renewing commuter rail service, but the plans ceased due to track conditions. Then, there were calls in 2017 for interested parties to submit proposals of ideas and projects to generate revenue from the tracks, but as of today they remain undeveloped.

Portions of the old Beacon line (also named the Maybrook line) have been restored and developed, with the section connecting Hopewell to Brewster opening in Spring of 2020, as part of the Empire State Rail Plan.

There are a number of thriving rail trails that connect the majority of the lower Hudson Valley. From Kingston down to Gardiner, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail stretches 21 miles.

Connecting New Paltz to Poughkeepsie, via the Poughkeepsie Bridge, is the great Hudson Valley Rail Trail.

Continuing on, Poughkeepsie connects to Hopewell on the Dutchess County Rail Trail. Traveling north from Kingston, trails extend up into Albany and Canada.

It seems the only one missing is the old Beacon line, whose undeveloped tracks currently run from Beacon to Hopewell, and whose rail trail would make traveling via bicycle or foot through Beacon, Glenham and Fishkill a gorgeous and peaceful possibility… we’d like to see the trail extend south to include Cold Spring, to get hikers of Breakneck to a safe area off the road! There is no doubt that a trail open to bicycles, walkers, joggers, stroller, and any other pedestrian mode of transport would not only be welcomed and celebrated, but would greatly and positively impact the lives of folks living and visiting Beacon, especially those who lack cars, or who just prefer an alternative, safe method of travel.