Gentler Places

  
places mostly Off-road -- for "gentler" bicycle riding 
in the Hudson Valley
  

what's here 

 - - Flat, mostly Off-road - - East side - - West side 

 - - Gentle, mostly Off-road 

see also 

Map of Gentler Places 

New Paltz area Gentler Places 

Photos of Gentler Places 


Places to Ride

The Hudson Valley offers some nice places for bicycle riding where the interaction with motor vehicle traffic is normally limited to just a few points, sometimes only at the start and finish. 

Many of these places are also good for a group with a variety of interests and requirements -- inline skates (e.g. "Roller Blades" trademark), roller skates, wheelchair, jogging, or walking with a stroller. 

Warning:  Although the the riding at these places and routes is mostly off-road, it still has significant risks.  These paths, rail trails, and roads sometimes go right next to drop-offs and cliffs.  There are trees, rocks, and many other obstacles which can be collided with.  Other users can be moving at high speeds even though they are not motorized, and there can sometimes be motor vehicles (e.g. authorized maintenance vehicles, unauthorized users) -- so high-speed collisions are possible. 

Flat, mostly Off-Road 

East side of the Hudson 

Start points Wassaic train station (Harlem line of Metro North) or Amenia or Millerton along Route 22 in eastern Dutchess county.  The rail trail goes slightly uphill in the north-bound direction from Wassaic toward Millerton, so if you want it easier on your return trip, start in Amenia or Wassaic.  Note that although the trail itself is off-road, it intersects with public roads at several points, at least one with high-speed vehicle traffic -- so special care is required in detecting, approaching, and crossing those. 

Start point Copake Falls along Route 22 in eastern Dutchess county (or Under Mountain Road at its south end).  Bicycle shop and food in Copake Falls.  Also suitable for inline skates, roller skates -- and walking with a stroller or wheel-chair.  Note:  This route includes a short section on a public road, but this normally has very little traffic.  It also intersects with driveways and possibly public roads at several other points -- so special care is required in detecting, approaching, and crossing those. 

  • Putnam Trailway -- mostly off-road -- over 7 miles complete and paved (as of January 2005 -- planned eventually for 12 miles) -- around Mahopac and Carmel in Putnam county. [ more details | rough map ]

  • Dutchess Rail Trail -- mostly off-road. Only partially completed as of June 2008.  Planned eventually for 12 miles from Hopewell Junction to the city of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess county, NY. [ official website ]

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West side of the Hudson 

  • Ashokan Reservoir -- 2.3 miles (as of May 2004) -- 1 mile, flat, on a wide paved path, plus an additional 1.3 miles on a wide paved road closed to motor vehicles (as of May 2004) -- but access to the second section from the usual "Frying Pan" parking area requires traveling up to 0.1 mile on a road open to motor vehicle traffic.  Beautiful views across the largest lake in the Hudson Valley, and of the highest summits in the Catskill mountains.  Also suitable for inline skates, roller skates, wheelchair -- or walking with a stroller.  Start point Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster county.  See [ Details | Administration | Map | Photos

  • Lloyd - Highland Rail Trail -- about 5 miles on pavement with return (out 2.5 miles and then back).  Very gentle.  Pleasant riding on a wide paved path, mostly off-road.  Additional unpaved section also open.  Also suitable for inline skates, roller skates, wheelchair -- or walking with a stroller.  In town of Lloyd in Ulster County (near Highland and Mid-Hudson Bridge).  See [ more Details | Photos ]

  • Hurley Rail Trail - (as of July 2007) - The paved section runs alongside the east side of Route 209 near Kingston. Its north parking area is immediately south of where 209 crosses Esopus Creek, a little more than a mile south from Route 28. The paved section of the trail is flat, and it's about 2.1 or 2.2 miles long (one-way). It crosses one public motor vehicle road. Parking areas are on either end of the paved section, or sometimes we park alongside Russell Rd (the one that crosses the middle of the trail).  The unpaved section continues south another 5 miles or so to Leggett Rd + Rt 213 near High Falls (and we've heard that it continues some distance further south from there). We've also heard that the trail follows the former path of the Ontario & Western Railway (O&W) and had some relation to the Delaware and Hudson canal (D&H). See [ Map ]

Start point New Paltz in Ulster County, which is conveniently reached from exit 18 of the NYS Thruway or the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Route 9W.  Bike shops and food in New Paltz.  Note that although the Rail Trail itself is off-road, it intersects with public roads at several points, some with possible high-speed vehicle traffic -- so special care is required in detecting, approaching, and crossing those.  [ Map ]

Start point New Paltz in Ulster County, which is conveniently reached from exit 18 of the NYS Thruway or the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Route 9W.  Alternate start point Gardiner (on Route 44).  Bike shops and food in New Paltz, food in Gardiner.  Note that although the Rail Trail itself is off-road, it intersects with public roads at several points, some with possible high-speed vehicle traffic -- so special care is required in detecting, approaching, and crossing those. [ Map ]

  • Orange Heritage Rail Trail -- 9 or more miles one-way (or more than 18 miles on pavement with return).  Pleasant riding on a paved path, mostly off-road -- additional unpaved section also open.  Also suitable for skates, wheelchair -- or walking with a stroller.   Start points Monroe, Chester, or Goshen in Orange County.  [ more Details ]

  • Nyack Beach Trail -- about 2 miles with return (out 1 mile and then back).  Flat, on a dirt path.  Ride right next to the Hudson River, with a nice picnic spot by the end.  Start point Nyack Beach State Park in Rockland county.  From downtown Nyack, go North on Broadway all the way to its end, then down a hill into the Park.   [ Official web page - - alternate - - Administration

  • Saddle River path -- Saddle River County Park in Bergen County NJ has a beautiful paved path that runs along the Saddle River for about six miles north-south from the Ridgewood Duck Pond (just south of Linwood Av and north of Ridgewood Av, and just west of Paramus Rd) thru Dunkerhook to Railroad Av in Rochelle Park (between Saddle River Rd and Main St - Fairview Av), with several side paths [as of June 2004].  Near Rochelle Park, Glen Rock, Dunkerhook, Ridgewood, Paramus, Fair Lawn.  For info try Garden Skaters, Bergen County Parks.

  • Liberty State Park, New Jersey -- a paradise of flat walkways with brick-stone surface, and some pavement.  Pretty riding right by the water, the very best views of the Manhattan skyline -- and historical sites and a modern science center. [ official Website | Photos ] 

Just south of Jersey City and across the river from Manhattan.   Convenient access by car, light rail in NJ, ferry boat from Manhattan.  Special hazard to watch out for:  beautiful walkways that lead to the top of short stairways -- but there's always a way to avoid the stairs -- you do have to pay attention to where you're going. 

Other ideas for exploration  

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Gentle, mostly Off-Road 

Undercliff Rd has rocks and cliffs, and you can stop and watch the rock climbers.  Overcliff Rd has views out across the Coxing Kill and Rondout valleys.  You can go out as far as you want on either one -- or fit riders can make it a loop.  

The Mohonk Preserve is in Ulster county.  See Map for Driving.   Take the Thruway to exit 18 for New Paltz (or start from the Mid-Hudson Bridge and take Route 9W North to Route 299 West).  Go West on Route 299 through New Paltz and continue West several miles to its end at a T-intersection.  Turn Right on Route 44 West.  Soon you see the sign for the Mohonk Preserve visitor center on the Right, which has overflow parking.  Continue up the hill around a hairpin curve, on up to the top and under an iron bridge (Trapps Bridge), then down a little ways to the parking area on the Right.  See Map for Driving.  Day use fee is required.  

Start by going up the off-road trail at the uphill (East) end of the parking area.  For most folks this will require some walking.  After you've climbed up onto Trapps Bridge (which crosses Route 44), turn Left and you quickly reach a fork in the road.  For Undercliff Road, continue straight.  For Overcliff Road, turn Left.  Note that while Undercliff Road starts with an interesting downhill section, lots of folks find themselves walking up that part on their way back.  Overcliff Road starts out with a long gentle uphill, but that's a pleasant way to finish downhill on the way back. 

For riding the loop, we recommend first getting a map, and also talk to one of the Preserve staff members about road conditions or changes.  There is a three-map set for the Shawangunk area which can be purchased at stores in New Paltz -- the Trapps area is on the Shawangunks South map.  For riding the loop, we prefer the counter-clockwise direction, starting out on Undercliff Road.  

This loop also connects at the Rhododendron Bridge with a complex network of carriage roads around the Mohonk Mountain House resort.  Most of these carriage roads are closed to bicycles, but families with extra energy might want to try exploring a ways up the Laurel Ledges road which goes Left from the Rhododendron Bridge.  

The Mohonk Preserve also has an area of interesting -- and hillier -- off-road carriage roads in the Spring Farm Road / Bonticou area off Ulster County Route 6.  

  • Minnewaska State Park Preserve -- This park is very popular for mountain bikes, and has some spectacular off-road riding with rock outcroppings and cliffs and big views.  But much of this riding is a bit on the hilly side.  Here's info about it we understood it as of June 2001:

The riding is on unpaved single-lane roads -- the Park calls them "carriageways".  (Bicycles are not permitted on the single-track trails.)  The less hilly roads are Upper Awosting Road (starting from the upper parking area by Lake Minnewaska) and Lower Awosting Road (starting from the low Awosting parking area next to Route 44). 

Minnewaska State Park Preserve is in Ulster county -- see Map and Directions for Driving.  A parking fee is required, and the Park normally offers a bicycling map. 

Park official web page -- if this link does not work, try New York State Parks page.  See also [ Eric Meyer's unofficial Minnewaska website

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more . . . 

Map of Gentler Places 

Photos of Gentler Places 
 

Other People's places 

 - - Westchester - - Putnam - - Rockland - - (in PDF format) 
 

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concept words

places: Hudson river valley, New York state, NY

  place

regions: Mid-Hudson Catskills Catskill region Wallkill area areas

counties: Dutchess Rockland Orange Ulster Greene Westchester Putnam Columbia county

towns:  Poughkeepsie Rhinebeck New Paltz Woodstock Kingston Manhattan -- city town village

bicycling: bicycle bicycling bike bikes bicycles bicyclist cycle cyclist cycling touring riding rider riders

routes: route routes ride rides tour tours turn cue sheet sheets map maps

other: rail trail trails trailway trailways path paths exercise exercising fitness outdoor outdoors

skating: skate skates skater skaters inline Rollerblading: roller blades blade blading Rollerblades


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