Dutchess Discovery: Millerton, Amenia & Millbrook | Millbrook | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram

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Dutchess Discovery: Millerton, Amenia & Millbrook

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Make a weekend of it at the new 11-room The Millerton Inn, with its New American/Mediterranean restaurant, which debuts in January.

There's life beyond Main Street, too. A couple of miles north of town is the Rudd Pond Area at Taconic State Park, where all types of water-driven activities (boating, fishing, swimming) await, as do hiking trails and campgrounds. Near Rudd Pond, the two-and-a-half-year-old Watershed Center, set on a 73-acre farm, serves as a "retreat for changemakers," with a year-round roster of workshop and retreat programming geared toward ecological and social change, with aims of helping participants embody democracy and more fully realize their activist potential. Co-founder Gregg Osofsky feels that the work of the center is needed now more than ever. "There's a veil that's been lifted," he said, citing the current political climate, adding that, "the muscle of civic engagement really needs to be exercised."

South of Millerton, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail has nearly 11 miles of hikeable and bikeable paved trails between Millerton's Main Street and the hamlets of Amenia and Wassaic. Another 35 miles of trails north of Millerton are in various states of development, including an eight-mile section from Millerton to Under Mountain Road that's expected to break ground in 2017/18.

Amenia

Following the rail trail—or Route 44, for the car-bound—about nine miles south of Millertown leads to Amenia, a sleepy, spread-out hamlet of less than a 1,000 (and part of a larger town of the same name). Roots here date back to the early 1700s and past incarnations saw the townscape sculpted by stints as an iron mining center and a 1920s-era lakeside bungalow resort (which was put to rest when Lake Amenia disappeared due to a dam burst in the '50s). But Amenia has a major new storyline in the works that has all the potential to wake it from its somewhat somnambulant state.

Wethersfield Carriage Museum in Amenia.
  • Wethersfield Carriage Museum in Amenia.

In a new take on the Hudson Valley country house, the $500 million Silo Ridge Field Club project (a Discovery Land Company development) is set to transform 800 acres of old dairy farmland into a private, high-end, gated community counting 245 residences (retailing in the $1 to $10 million range) and members-only amenities galore. While residences won't be ready until late summer, the 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course already debuted in August, though hitting the links is restricted solely to Silo Ridge members (aka residents) and their guests (so chum up to tee off!).

While nonresidents won't have access to Silo Ridge, there will be some discernible community benefits. Most immediately, they've funded a new public park on DeLaVergne Hill along Route 44, known for its sweeping Harlem Valley views. More transformatively, Amenia resident and Harlem Valley Chamber of Commerce treasurer, John Parsons, expects the tax base, new jobs, and clientele from Silo Ridge to drive local economic growth. "It's bringing a certain clientele and newer higher-end housing to the area, and this clientele will drive amenities and services," he explained.

Well before the Silo Ridge residents show up, however, Amenia already touts buzz-worthy establishments well worth tapping into, particularly on the culinary front. Two-year-old Monte's Local Kitchen & Tap Room is a destination restaurant that wouldn't be out of place in a trendy part of Brooklyn, with live music, signature cocktails, and experimental American farm-fresh fare reflected in a seasonally driven menu. It's helmed by 25-year-old chef and co-owner, CIA graduate and Mexican-born Chef Dafna Mizrahi, who won the Food Network's show "Chopped" in 2015.

The other big name in town is Chef Serge Madikians, behind Serevan, who draws from his Armenia-by-way-of-Iran ancestry to showcase flavors and culinary traditions of the Middle East and Mediterranean. His distinctive dishes emphasize fresh local ingredients, with a special attention to seasonal seafood, which Madikians personally sources fresh off the boat in Cape Cod, where he flies weekly since getting his pilot's license three years ago.

New to town since November is Railhead Jerk, a Jamaican restaurant that's well worth seeking out for its flavorful menu of jerk sauce-marinated meats and island specialties like curried goat and oxtail stew.

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