Cycling The Hudson Valley

28 June, 2017

Over the weekend I joined Bike New York on the Discover Hudson Valley Ride. Being a Hudson Valley resident, I was excited to be part of the event as a local. Centered around the Walkway Over the Hudson, the worlds longest footbridge, the ride was all about discovering the gorgeous scenery of the Valley. Having a few friends along, I felt so proud to be sharing the beautiful views of my own backyard.

One could describe this upside of New York as quaint, quiet, hilly, green, and a lot less dense than NYC. Many weekend NYCer's often come upstate to escape the concrete jungle to hike it's abundant state parks, indulge in its Kinfolk vibes of organic farm to table restaurants, and kayak through quiet serene lakes. If you're ever wanting to indulge in a cycling escape, here are a few cycling trails to explore around the Hudson Valley.
Walkway Over the Hudson/Rail Trail connections
You might as well start with a gem, the old Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge that takes riders on a short but memorable experience. The bridge is 212 feet tall and more than a mile long – 1.28 miles, to be exact. It offers magnificent vistas as you bike over the Hudson River. For cyclists, one of the best aspects of the walkway is that it is now connected to other linear paths.

The Dutchess Rail Trail runs 13.4 miles from Poughkeepsie to East Fishkill, with a variety of stops, including City of Poughkeepsie businesses and the Hopewell Depot, a restored train station. In between these points, cyclists traverse various bridges, ride on "Veterans Memorial Mile" that pays homage to our war veterans and are treated to a spectacular view of Lake Walton.

The Ulster County connection to the Walkway is the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, which runs for about 4 miles, and cyclists can easily get off and enjoy the restaurants and historic sites in the hamlet of Highland. Those making it to the end are greeted by the vast offerings at Tony Williams Park, which has ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, pavilions and restrooms. This trail also features a depot and is the site of many community-oriented events.
Putnam Valley Rail Trail
The Putnam trailway is the northernmost trail spanning 12 miles into Brewster. The car-free and pedestrian friendly Putnam Rail Trail spans nearly 45 miles out of the Old Put corridor, from Van Cortlandt Park in New York City north to Putnam County. This ones one of my favorite local rides filled with farmlands, rivers, lakes, and plenty of woodland shade without a car in sight.

Harlem Valley Rail Trail
This trail has two sections totaling 15 paved miles in Dutchess and Columbia counties. In Dutchess, the trail extends 10.7 miles north from Metro-North's Harlem Valley commuter line at Wassaic to the Village of Millerton. Along the way, cyclists get to take in the small towns of eastern Dutchess and the true beauty of the area, including forests, wetlands and some magnificent farmland.

The O&W Rail Trail/D&H Heritage Corridor
Parts of this trail runs along Route 209, with more to come. One segment of this old rail line runs for about 12 miles and connects the Hurley and Marbletown rail trails. This segment is mostly dirt and gravel, but there is a slightly more than two-mile portion in Hurley that is paved. As riders head into the woods, they come upon a large bog where it is not uncommon to see blue herons. Plans include having this trail eventually link to Kingston.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
There are plenty of bike trails in this park, including the Castle Point Carriage Road Loop (8.5 miles), which offers a chance to see both Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting, along with dramatic views of ledges, ridges and ravines. This ride is more intense than a rail trail ride and includes twists, turns and elevation. At Castle Point, bikers can enjoy panoramic views, and the ride down back to the parking lot near Lake Minnewaska is exhilarating.

Mohonk Preserve
The preserve has more than 30 miles of carriage roads, including links to bike routes in the adjacent Minnewaska State Park Preserve and the Mohonk Mountain House resort. One of the most popular bike rides is the Undercliff/Overcliff Carriage Road Loop (5 miles). This is also a popular place for hikers and rock climbers, and like Minnewaska, so the terrain and elevation are different than what bikers experience on rail trails.

Stewart State Forest
With about 6,700 acres, the forest has diverse uses. For cyclists, it is known for its miles of "single-track" trail. As the name suggests, these are narrow trails, wide enough for only one biker at a time, and they typically are much more technical rides than either rail trails or carriageways. Here, bikers need bursts of speed to power up hills and go over tree roots and other obstacles. The forest also has wider gravel roads.
Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
This trail extends for 24 miles from the southern border of Gardiner to south of Kingston at Rockwell Lane and Route 32. It passes through woods, open fields and farmland offering views of the Shawangunk Ridge and the Wallkill River and links the hamlet of Gardiner with downtown New Paltz up to Rosendale. From there, cyclists get a glorious view from the Rosendale Trestle, which spans 150 feet above Route 213 and Rondout Creek. The trail continues north toward Kingston, offering a more rugged terrain at times, but it is mostly flat, and one of the many highlights is a view of Williams Lake.

Mount Beacon
One of the most challenging peaks in the Hudson Valley. You are ascending 1,500 feet in less than 3 miles, which makes for a tough climb. At the top, you are rewarded with spectacular 360-degree view of the Hudson Valley. The downhill is very rewarding but extremely challenging. There are several single tracks that branch out off the main carriage trails that will take you down the mountain.

Jockey Hill in Kingston
The majority of the trails at Jockey Hill are single track, and they are not for the faint of heart, nor the technically inexperienced. Depending on the trail, riders go over tree roots and logs, and the area holds a lot of water, keeping the paths muddy.

For cyclists the mid-Hudson Valley has more off-road opportunities than listed here, but the ones above provide a wide range of uses and are good places to start.

Follow On Instagram