The Hyde Park Trails committee is an active public-private partnership that: develops, promotes and maintains walking trails which are open to the public; sponsors annual trail events to promote healthy lifestyles; provides interpretive information about relevant history and natural history; and reaches out to the community to support the trails through volunteering for trail monitoring, work days, events, Scout projects, and other activities.
The Hyde Park Trails (HPT) committee was established in 1988 with a mission to provide public hiking trails along the Hudson River, and linkages to the countryside that provide recreational, scenic and health opportunities to the local community as well as visitors to the Hyde Park area. The first section of the Hyde Park Trail to be completed linked two National Park Service sites: the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Vanderbilt Mansion. Opened in 1991, this 3.5-mile link was one of the first trail segments designated by the Hudson River Valley Greenway, taking a first step toward the Greenway vision of a trail along or within sight of the Hudson River, extending from New York City to the Capital Region and beyond. The National Park Service provides technical, planning and programming assistance to the HPT committee, as a partner and advisor, through the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.
The HPT system currently includes about 34 miles of trails, including trails within 3 National Park units, a State Park complex, 3 Town Parks, and a land trust nature preserve, connected in large part by trail easements across private lands, as well as on-road linkages. All trails in the Hyde Park Trail system were designated National Recreation Trails by the U. S. Department of the Interior in 2006, and their formal designation as Hudson River Valley Greenway Trails was underway in 2018.
The Hyde Park Trails Logo
The logo of the Hyde Park Trails is the distinctive leaf of the tulip-tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, which was FDR’s favorite tree species. FDR was a leader in forestry and conservation, and planted over 500,000 trees on his land, including thousands of tulip-trees. While the logo is used to brand the entire Hyde Park Trail system, its use on trail markers is limited to the trunkline through-route of the Hyde Park Trail, which extends for about 9 miles. It links the NPS sites, extending from Top Cottage, through Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill, the Roosevelt Farm Lane, the Home of FDR, the Town’s Riverfront Park, and the Vanderbilt Mansion.
Events and Programs
Hyde Park Trails hosts a small number of public events and programs every year. The largest and most popular is a supported, 9-mile End2End walk/hike/fun run on the trunkline Hyde Park Trail. It is held annually on National Trails Day (the first Saturday in June) and is co-sponsored with the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites.
The Hyde Park Healthy Trails Walkabout Program, developed in partnership with the Dutchess County Health Department, encourages people to walk and hike for health and wellness, and use a variety of different trails throughout the year. Participants who complete at least five trails in a given year and fill out a checklist earn a free, themed trail patch. The Hyde Park Trail Committee creates a new patch each year, featuring a natural or historical feature that relates to Hyde Park Trails. The Walkabout is typically launched each year with a guided hike in April, during Earth Day week (which is also National Park Week).
At Mills-Norrie State Park, a year-round volunteer trail maintenance crew is overseen by an NY-NJ Trail Conference volunteer. Other trails can be “adopted” by volunteer maintainers. We also strive to engage community members and youth in trail work parties and construction projects, including working with Eagle Scout candidates, as well as nearby Marist College and other educational institutions.
Our trail structures, including trailhead kiosks, trail signs, benches, bridges and boardwalks, are almost all made and maintained by volunteers. Our first five trailhead kiosks, together with over 50 signs, were built by Dutchess BOCES students. Additional kiosks, as well as benches, bridges and signs – and even a parking lot -- have been built by Eagle Scouts. The Ralph’s Peak Hikers’ Cabin Volunteers, who ordinarily work on the Appalachian Trail, have been especially helpful with new trail construction (and reconstruction). Many more projects, large and small, have been undertaken by individuals and groups over the years. Volunteers are also essential to the safety and success of our trail events.
Trail visitation data collected on five trails administered by the National Park Service have shown that these NPS trails receive nearly 40,000 visits per year. We estimate that total visitation to all Hyde Park Trails, including the Town Parks, Winnakee Nature Preserve and the popular Mill-Norrie State Park, is in the neighborhood of 80,000 to 100,000 per year.