Welcome to the Harlem Valley
Only 65 miles north of New York City, tucked below the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, the rural towns and villages of eastern Dutchess County define the Harlem Valley. Here you will discover a wide variety of unique outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as small farms, artisanal food shops stocked with products from the Harlem and Hudson Valleys, and other experiences. If you plan to stay, a range of lodging awaits, from a resort inn to two nearby shelters on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Dine at one of our restaurants that feature locally-sourced foods, or hit Big W’s, regionally known for its BBQ.
The Harlem Valley comprises the towns and hamlets of Pawling, Wingdale, Dover Plains, Wassaic, Millerton, Millbrook, and Beekman. The valley is part of the 2,190-mile-long Appalachian Mountain landscape known as the Wild East. Only an hour train ride from New York City, visitors can explore 16 miles of the A.T. through Dover and Pawling, with hikes ranging in ability from easy rolling terrain to rock scrambles.
Harlem Valley A.T. Community (Dover & Pawling)
Dover and Pawling were designated as an A.T. Community in 2013, known collectively as the Harlem Valley A.T. Community (HVATC). We celebrate the Trail’s beauty, our cultural heritage and our lands of high conservation value within the Wild East landscape. The HVATC is committed to outreach and education, and advocates for large landscape conservation in the Harlem Valley. We also encourage sustainable economic development, as envisioned by the Trail’s architect, Benton MacKaye, who plotted the original path from Georgia to Maine. As the Indigenous people, the Schaghticokes guide our interpretation of the land and rivers around us. We are working with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to develop a cultural conservation project featuring the diversity of populations that make up our distinct demographic.
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How to Get Here
By Train: The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is accessible by Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line. On weekends, the train stops directly on the A.T. close to Route 22. Regular service takes you to nearby stops in Pawling, Dover Plains, and Wassaic, the northern terminus.
By Car: Route 22 runs through the valley from Pawling to Millerton. The road was once used by “drovers” to shepherd livestock from the north, and by dairy farmers to transport milk to the south. This road, originally starting in lower Manhattan, was likely a path created by the Indigenous people. Free parking is available at the A.T. train station and the turnouts to the north.
Two Hikes from the A.T. Train Stop
Cat Rocks: For a spectacular sunrise and a birds’ eye view of the Harlem Valley, begin at the A.T. train station on Rt. 22. Head west/south on the A.T. across the boardwalk over the Great Swamp, up Corbin Hill, and descend to the Dover Oak, the oldest blazed tree on the Trail. Continue across W. Dover Road and climb up to Cat Rocks, a 1000’ elevation granite outcropping facing east. The roundtrip is about 7 miles out-and-back, with some rock scrambling.
Pawling Nature Reserve: From the A.T. train station on Rt. 22, head east/north across the road. Walk past old barns and travel the edge of a working farm. Depending on grazing rotations, you might see a herd of cows as you head towards the Pawling Nature Reserve. Rise up along Hammersley Ridge and enter the Nature Conservancy’s Pawling Nature Reserve on the red-blazed trail. Trace your steps back to return to the A.T. southbound, about a 5-mile roundtrip.
Dover Stone Church, Dover Plains; Pawling Nature Reserve, Pawling & Wingdale; Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge (Nellie Hill Tract), Dover Plains; Lakeside Park, Pawling, includes a mountain bike trail; Cary Institute, Millbrook; West Mountain Multiple Use Area, Wingdale; Harlem Valley Rail Trail, Wassaic to Millerton.
Ten Mile River and the Great Swamp: Fishing, Canoeing & Kayaking
Dover and Pawling share the north flow of the Great Swamp, New York’s third-largest freshwater wetland, and together with the towns of Amenia and Northeast, sit in the Ten Mile River Watershed. The Ten Mile River is stocked with rainbow trout, and when the water is high, experienced kayakers hit the well-known whitewater for a run to the Housatonic River. At the end of the day, they often camp at the Ten Mile Shelter on the A.T. where the rivers meet. For a more contemplative experience, put in on the slow current of the Great Swamp: the north flow requires portaging, the south flow has a canoe trail from Patterson to Brewster.
Multiple Use Area
West Mountain State Forest (Dover,) is a Multiple Use Area where you can hunt, fish, camp, mountain bike, horseback ride, and cross-country ski.
Harlem Valley’s scenic roads – both paved and dirt – travel through woodlands, along rivers, and past farms. Some farms are fifth generation, while others are first, started by young people who traded in the sidewalk for the soil. See Harlem Valley Farm & Food Alliance.
Birders bring your binoculars: the A.T. is Ground Zero for bird migration – see Wild Skyway, by Marina Richie, A.T. Journeys magazine, Winter 2019. The Great Swamp is in the Atlantic Flyway for waterfowl.
Need More Reasons to Visit?
Check out these websites for highlights:
Pawling Bread Company, Schaghticoke First Nations, Harlem Valley Homestead, Brookby Farm, Wholey Oats, Wassaic Project, Four Brothers Drive-in, Growing Heart Farm, Station Inn, Troutbeck, Irving Farm New York, Harney & Sons, and darragh studio kombucha.
To volunteer for A.T. projects, contact [email protected].
Partners and supporters include:
Dutchess Land Conservancy,
Dutchess Tourism, Inc.,
Friends of the Great Swamp,
Groundwork Hudson Valley (Yonkers,)
Harlem Valley Homestead,
Hike for Mental Health,
Housatonic Valley Association,
Mid-Hudson Trout Unlimited,
The Mission Continues,
National Parks Conservation Association,
National Park Service,
The Nature Conservancy,
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference,
Open Space Institute
Schaghticoke First Nations,
Sierra Club Military Outdoors,
Trust for Public Land,
Waterman Bird Club,
A.T. Train Stop/Boardwalk to Dover Oak (A.T. stop is weekends only – during the week you can take the train to Pawling or Harlem Valley/Wingdale.)
HVATC Large Map
HVATC Small Map for printing
HVATC’s home base is Native Landscapes, at the crossroads of the A.T. Boardwalk, RT 22 and Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Valley Line. Native Landscapes Proprietor, Pete Muroski, co-founder and member of the HVATC Board,offers rest and rejuvenation to thru-hikers just a few steps north of the RR crossing.
Pawling is home to the only railroad stop on the Trail, and Metro-North makes regularly scheduled weekend stops at the A.T. Boardwalk.
GCA & ATC Host Weed Wrangle Event, Tom Walogorsky, The Pawling Record, May 30, 2019
Dutchess Tourism presents Research Report; Appalachian Trail Top Destination, Pawling Record, April 2019
HVATC Brochure 2018; Trail Day, Saturday, October 13, 2018
"Capitol Hill Photo Exhibit Celebrates the Appalachian Trail", Local photographer Julian Diamond reps NYS, The Pawling Record, Oct 12, 2018
Trail Communities as Stewards, Lynn Davis, AT Journeys, Fall 2018
"Cat Rocks," Cover Photograph, Julian Diamond, AT Journeys, Fall 2018
"Looking back, Looking ahead." Letter from Suzanne Dixon, ATC President & CEO, AT Journeys, Fall 2018
Scouting Partnership with the Harlem Valley A.T. Community, Pawling Girl Scouts, News & Notes, Sep 4, 2018
"National Trails Day: Hikes, Stewardship and Lots of Trail Love", NYNJTC, Heather Darley, June 4 2018
Hikers Enjoy Trail Magic Day, Pawling Record, August 2018
National Trails Day 2018 Pawling NY
HVATC Co-Hosts National Trails Day 2018 event
“Thanks to all who keep the Appalachian Trail accessible,” PoJo, Aug 2017
Majestic Maintenance ATJ Summer 2017 Article
Harlem Valley A.T. Community Receives Dutchess Tourism Award of Distinction
"National Parks and A.T. deserve support" Millerton News, Nov 2016
HVATC Trail Day, Millerton News, Oct 2016
Floral Fireworks, AT Journeys, May/June 2014
A Tale of Two Towns, AT Journeys, Jan/Feb 2014
Not Bogged Down, AT Journeys, July/Aug 2012
HVATC Letters of Support
Town of Dover
Town of Pawling