or with Variation H, 48 miles, moderate hilliness (2800 vertical feet, hill index 3.4)
Hill climbs: Three climbs longer than 250 vertical feet, but none of them much more than 6% for long. The hardest climbs can be avoided by taking Variations.
Traffic: Mostly similar to other routes on this website, except as noted below. Several miles on high-speed high-traffic roads, but much of that has wide shoulders (as of July 2009). Some urban streets. Many miles of roads with low or moderate vehicle traffic.
Special Traffic interaction: The section of Route 9W South coming down the hill from Route 32 into Kingston has two wide lanes in each direction, and mostly a wide shoulder as of April 2003. But in the midst of this downhill, the shoulder is interrupted by an exit ramp and then an entrance ramp each of which normally carries high-speed vehicle traffic. This situation is not unusual for vehicle drivers, but it might be an unfamiliar traffic interaction for some bicycle riders, with extra risks if not handled well. See the Resources page for some ideas on how to handle it. Or consider using the Variation E at Mile 28.9 to avoid this exit-entrance-ramp interaction.
Railroad tracks: On Variation F on Strand St in Kingston, there are some railroad tracks crossing the road at tricky difficult angles, which could result in a bicyclist falling suddenly if not handled well. See the Resources page for some ideas on how to handle this. If you're not sure you can handle it, get off and walk your bike across the tracks -- or just don't use this Variation.
And it might have been a longer time since some of the Variations of the route were last checked by us. Some roads and intersections might be different since then, or closed -- so be prepared to find alternatives -- a good reason to carry a detailed map. Other people may have more recent experiences with parts of the route which could help prepare: see the Reports page linked below.
more . . .
by train: The route goes near both the Poughkeepsie station (Metro North and Amtrak) and the Rhinecliff station (Amtrak) -- see Train stations with bicycle routes. For the Poughkeepsie train station, see the Detail Map of Poughkeepsie.
by car: To get to Poughkeepsie -- take exit 18 off the New York State Thruway, then Right on Rt 299 East, Right on Rt 9W South, and cross the Mid-Hudson Bridge. From the Taconic State Parkway, exit onto Rt 44 West or Rt 55 West and follow either route to the Mid-Hudson Bridge.
Selecting route alternatives
Reasons which might favor the Mid-Hudson Bridge sidewalk are: Walkway is closed for a special event, or at some hours of the day the MHB sidewalk might be open when Walkway is closed, or there might be such a high volume of other users on the Walkway that it was actually faster to to take the MHB sidewalk (pretty unlikely for this loop).
The Walkway and MHB sidewalk have slightly different daily opening and closing hours. Check in advance if this matters to you. Both are normally closed for most or all of night-time hours.
But the famous historic sites are on Route 9, so if you want to stop at a couple of those and get off your bike, that's the way. There's hardly any view of the River from Route 9, but you could stop and hike to some river views, especially at the Vanderbilt estate and at the Mills estate / Norrie Point. Most of Route 9 has reasonable shoulders [as of May 2003], though there are a lot of busy intersections just north of Poughkeepsie and then going through Hyde Park.
North of Mill Rd around mile 16, taking Route 9 to Rhinebeck would avoid some hills and distance. But there's no point in calling this a "river route" if you don't take the pleasant roads to visit Rhinecliff -- including the nice view across the River from the south end of Grinnell St.
Variation H taking mostly Route 9W has a few glimpses of the River, but nothing dramatic, especially in seasons when the trees have leaves. Anyway Route 9W has mostly reasonable shoulders [as of 2009] (except the section just north of the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which we avoid by turning off onto North Rd). So Variation H is a reasonable alternative if you just want to finish the loop without doing a lot more work.