Descents -- Down the Hills

The Hudson river valley has plenty of hills, and some of them have fun descents.  These are a few of our favorites.  

We like our downhills interesting rather than steep -- like with curves and dips and views.  So if you prefer to just scream straight down some steep hill, you might have to start your own list. 

what's here 

see also 

Minnewaska West 

Long with interesting curves and dips, pretty rock outcroppings, and a big view across the Roundout valley to the Catskills.  Take Route 44 West from Minnewaska State Park to Kerhonkson in Ulster County.   On these routes: New Paltz to Ashokan and Great Shawangunk Hill Loop.  (Drops 1200 vertical feet in 5.4 miles.)

Mohonk West 

Pretty view, steep with some interesting curves.  Take Mountain Rest Rd (Ulster County Rt 6) West from the Mohonk Mountain House gatehouse, then continue straight on Ulster County 6A toward High Falls.  Starts steep with some little curves, then two big curves (more than a 90 degree right angle -- but not hairpins) -- then another little steep, followed by a roller or two.  (Drops 770 vertical feet in 2.2 miles.)

Mohonk East 

Lots of interesting curves, and a nice view across the Wallkill valley.  Mountain Rest Rd (Ulster County Rt 6) East from the Mohonk Mountain House gatehouse down to the Stop sign before the bottom.   On these routes: New Paltz to Ashokan and Great Shawangunk Hill Loop.  (Drops 840 vertical feet in 2.1 miles.)

Great Shawangunk Hill Loop  (Ulster County)

This route combines two of the descents above with two of the climbs -- with rocks, curves, and views. [ Map | Description ]

Route 52 West

Big views to the west and interesting rocks alongside the road, on a long downhill northwest to Ellenville from the top of the Shawangunks ridge by Cragsmoor. Route 52 gets significant high-speed vehicle traffic. Much of it is fairly wide on the west-bound side [as of July 2008] -- but the lower section is not so wide, so need to have a strategy for dealing with that safely.

also nearby: Cragsmoor West climb | New Paltz Ashokan variation B

Seven Lakes down to the River

Actually this is a link-up of three downhills -- with pretty lakes and rocks and views -- in Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks (in Orange and Rockland Counties):  

1) Rockland Co Rt 106 West from where it crosses under Lake Welch Drive to Kanawauke circle. (Note connection to another Rt 106 descent).  (Drops 290 ft in 1.1 mile.)

2) Seven Lakes Drive North from Tiorati Circle.  (Drops 540 ft in 3.6 miles.)

3) Seven Lakes Drive East from the Palisades Parkway and Perkins Memorial Drive down to the Hudson River. (Drops 620 ft in 2.4 miles.) -- Side trip up Perkins Memorial Drive to the summit of Bear Mountain adds great views and earns a drop of 630 ft in 2 miles -- for a total descent of around 1250 vertical feet in 4.5 miles.

For details, see the main route: [ Map | Description ]

Winchell Mountain / Columbia Route 8

A long downhill with a view all the way across Columbia county to the Catskill mountains, and it just keeps going  into Ancramdale and its two bakeries.  In southeast Columbia county at the border with Dutchess county. (Drops about 680 vertical feet in 2.8 miles.)

Start on Winchell Mountain Rd / Dutchess County Route 60.  Turn onto Pulver Rd with great views in all directions as you go north along the ridge, and bear Left to start the long descent on Columbia County Route 8.  On this route: Harlem Valley Rail to Trail to Falls, and can be reached from Variation A of Hills and Horse Farms of NE Dutchess

Columbia County Route 8 has some more nice downhill sections going West from the Taconic State Parkway to Route 19 and Manorton. 

Ashokan Road

A fun roller-coaster of curves and dips.  Start from Route 28A in Ulster County on the south side of the Ashokan reservoir, and go South down Stone Church Rd  (next to swamp on Right).  Just after crossing a stony creek, turn Right and climb a little and keep bearing right onto Ashokan Rd, where you pay in advance for your fun by starting with an uphill.  Then comes the downhill -- with several rollers to get over -- which finishes at Ulster County Rt 5. (Drops 525 vertical feet in 3.4 miles).  On this route: New Paltz to Ashokan, and connects with Variation Q of Woodstock and Around Ashokan Reservoir.

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more descents . . . 

This road connects directly to another hill:  Gate Hill (and we've heard that some riders go west across Rt 17 onto Rt 17A to more climbs and descents toward Warwick, but we have not checked those).  And it is not far away from still more hills:  Bear Mountain and Arden Valley Rd.

  • Shunpike -- Dutchess County Route 57 -- West from Mabbettsville Rd to Route 82.  Some might say that the little uphills interspersed mean that it's not a true descent.  But it's more down than up, and we find it lots of fun on our tandem.  On this route: Hills and Horse Farms of Northeast Dutchess.  (Drops about 670 vertical feet in 4.6 miles.)
  • North wall of the Catskills (Greene County) -- Route 23, East from Windham to Cairo (Greene County).  Very long with fine views to the north.  (But if you want to ride some more interesting curves, consider Route 23A East from Tannersville to Palenville.)  Rt 23 is a major regional highway with high-speed traffic. (Drops 1600 vertical feet in 8.5 miles)
  • Route 203  (Columbia County) -- west from Austerlitz (Route 22) to Spencertown, and on toward the Taconic State Parkway and Chatham.  (Drops 750 vertical feet in 3.6 miles.)

Catskill mountains?  The Catskills are higher than the other hills around the Hudson valley, but the roads mostly go through forest, so we haven't find many big views that would reward the work of the climbing. So we don't ride there much, and we'll leave it for somebody else to find some fun descents in there.

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see also 

back to Top | Road Condition reports | Climbs | All Routes

concept words:  

places: Hudson river valley, New York state, NY

regions: Mid-Hudson Catskills Catskill region Wallkill area areas

counties: Dutchess Rockland Orange Ulster Greene Albany Westchester Putnam Columbia Rensselaer Bergen 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

descents: descend descent down hill hills downhill downhills vertical steep


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