The Prison Break: Pawling to Hopewell Junction Day | Empire State Trail, Hudson River ride #5 | 3/22/21
14 miles total Northbound.
Short off-trail ride in Hopewell Junction to stop for lunch.
Approaching the trail this morning had me touring the Stormville countryside. I was thinking north was south from the get-go, moving forward I’m going to check my cell phone’s compass on arrival to the general vicinity of EST trail parking areas. This one is in Stormville on South Greenhaven Road, just down the street from the Greenhaven Correctional Facility which might be the largest structure in Dutchess County. Once I realized that the prison was on the trail and South Greenhaven Road was on the right just past the correctional facilities entrance, the puzzle came together, a mile down on the right.
Signage for the parking area is prominent, the people in Stormville are friendly, the morning dog walkers were my guides. As I began to roll through the parking lot I casually asked a couple with 2 big dogs if I’d “reach Holmes by turning right?” They said, “no sir, Holmes is left, south is left.” Thank heavens for local knowledge. They also told me that I’d see a picturesque waterfall on the right side of the trail about a mile away.
This ride is a round trip, since there’s limited parking on the Empire State Trail in the Stormville area, the choice to ride a round trip fit well into my plan for this week. With a goal of reaching Hopewell Junction by the end of March in the books, it was nice to get in a full 30 miles of exercise on this sunny day. The full ride out of South Greenhaven Road’s parking lot can best be described as a teacup because whichever way you start out the first leg is uphill, then on turn around the ride goes back down to the bottom and the parking area then the climb resumes.
As the trail heads south there are several creeks with spring runoff flowing at full speed, snow in the hills continue to melt. I was surprised to find signage for the Appalachian Trail, which crosses the railroad tracks and proceeds down to a bridge that crosses a fast-moving stream. Marshes and Whaley lake follow the settlement on Whaley lakes’ opposite shore is straight out of a story tale. Imagine – grab the paper and a coffee for a perfect sunrise on a pier in paradise.
It’s one blast of water reflected light after another, riding this section before noon should be a bucket list bullet point.
The return is downhill and breezy, pedal hard you’ll pass the parking lot in short time. Then comes the trailside prison, which is unsettling and heavily fenced off. My thoughts went to those inside and what might have landed them in custody, then I turned to gratitude for my good fortune to be on the trail. Then I was pedaling uphill again.
On arrival at Hopewell Junction, the first service business that comes into view is a tavern called Daddy O’s located directly on the trail’s edge. Closed on Monday, so I carried on. Shortly after Daddy-O’s, Hopewell Junction’s jewel comes into view. The railroad depot, one century old and maintained impeccably, the old train station stands as a reminder of days gone by and for today’s travelers, a welcome center. It offers restrooms, a compressed air bike tuning station, a railroad museum, and cold soda vending machines. This is the first stop of its kind that I’ve found since my brief roll through Yorktown Heights.
On the suggestion of a friendly local woman on her afternoon stroll I headed to town in search of a light lunch. Taking a left at the railroad museum and riding about ¼ mile through the outskirts of Hopewell Junction’s commercial zone, I found a small pizza shop with outdoor tables, Aliano Pizza is quick and easy. With my hunger satisfied I rode back down the trail to Stormvilles’ parking area, at the bottom of my teacup, yet another perfect day in the Empire State Trail.