• where:  Cross both the Walkway over the Hudson (or Mid-Hudson bridge) and Kingston-Rhinecliff bridges, looping on both sides of the Hudson river from Poughkeepsie up through Dutchess county to Rhinecliff to Kingston, then back down through Ulster county to Highland.

  • 53 miles, hilly, 3400 vertical feet (feels like 3900 feet, hill index 4.0). 
    . . 54 miles if cross river on Mid-Hudson Bridge instead of Walkway.

or with Variation H, 48 miles, moderate hilliness (2800 vertical feet, hill index 3.4)

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A) Poughkeepsie to Rhinecliff (east) [bhvr6a]  on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

B) Kingston to Highland (west side) [bhvr6b]  on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

var N) closer to river near Walkway [bhvr6vn]  on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX

 + (non-digital)  overview map

  • highlights:   Pretty roads in quiet woods with some houses + sometimes interesting marshland, the best riding alongside the Hudson river north of Beacon, shops and sights at the Rondout waterfront, two big Hudson river bridges, optional side trips to Rhinebeck or New Paltz.

  • characteristics:  Much on quiet roads, some busy roads, and some city streets.  Some long hills, but not real steep and long. 

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.

Route not checked by us since 2009 -- learn more | see Reports

more . . . 

  • Directions to Start

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. 

Alternate starting pointsRhinebeck, Rhinecliff, Kingston, New Paltz, Highland.

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Selecting route alternatives

  • Mid-Hudson Bridge sidewalk versus Walkway over the Hudson to cross Hudson River between Highland and Poughkeepsie. Using the Walkway with this loop is simpler and shorter in distance, normally quieter, arguably prettier.

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.

  • On the East side of the river, it would be possible to take Route 9 most of the way to Mill Rd around mile 16 and avoid some hills and distance -- but we never do, because we think those quieter roads are interesting and pretty.

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.

  • On the West side, the River Rd section south of Port Ewen around mile 33 requires a long hill climb, but we think it's worth it for the pretty riding right alongside the River.

  • What to do after mile 37?  The roads further inland on the main route are quiet and have a "remote" feel, but they're hilly. We remember seeing mostly woods with some houses (and some interesting swampland) -- some riders love it.  We ourselves feel a with for a little more variety in there, but find it's pleasant and interesting enough if we haven't been riding lots of that sort of terrain recently. 

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.

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