Great Shawangunk Hill Loop
  • where:  West of New Paltz in Ulster County, NY.
  • 32 miles, with some big steep hills (3200 vertical feet, hill index 8.4). 

27.5 miles for the loop only (2900 vertical feet, hill index 9.2) 

53 miles for the Great Shawangunk Double route, with twice as many steep hills -- because it does the Hill Loop twice, once in each direction.

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  • highlights:  Combines two fun descents with two memorable climbs -- with rocks, brooks, curves, and sweeping views.   

The loop from the intersection of Butterville and Mountain Rest back around to the same intersection makes a great training lap.

If you have the skills and the strength, and can manage the traffic interaction risk, on a good weather day this is one of the great riding experiences you can have.  Story of this route 

  • characteristics:  Very hilly, with some of the steepest climbs and steepest descents in the Hudson valley.  

Traffic:  Some of the roads get a lot of motor vehicle traffic.  And especially since some of this traffic must be handled while climbing up steep hills, we think some of these road segments have greater traffic interaction risk than most of the road segments on this Bike Hudson Valley website -- see Traffic Discussion for details.  (The Great Shawangunk Double route has a section in one of its directions which we think has still greater traffic interaction risk.) 

We recommend that these routes be done only by riders with excellent and well-practiced bike control skills on steep climbs and steep descents, and with good skill and experience in traffic handling and strategy in those circumstances -- and with an understanding and acceptance of the special traffic interaction risks in these situations. 

For more on traffic, see the Traffic Discussion page.

Check Trip Reports and Road Condition reports.

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  • directions to start:

by car:  Take the New York State Thruway to exit 18, New Paltz.  Come out of the exit toll booth to a T with a traffic light.  Turn Left onto Rt 299 West.   Just before going down the hill to the center of the village of New Paltz, bear Right onto Front Street, where there is a sign "to Route 32 North".

GPS latitude-longitude = N41.7490,W74.0856 = 41.7490,-74.0856  [on Google Maps]

by train:  New Paltz is 11 to 12 miles from the Poughkeepsie train station, with service by Metro North from New York City, and by Amtrak.  For ideas about riding a bicycle from there, see Connecting between Poughkeepsie trains and New Paltz.

Alternate start points:  Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park, Kerhonkson, Accord.

  • map:  You should have a detailed road map of Ulster County to do this route (see Maps). 
  • the Great Shawangunk Double -- around 53 miles and 5700 vertical feet (hill index around 9.3). 

The idea of this route is to do all the "Great Shawangunk" hills both up and down, by riding in both directions -- but to avoid most of Rt 299.  

Start the loop in the reverse direction (counter-clockwise):  from New Paltz and the Wallkill valley, climb up Mountain Rest Rd (Ulster Co Rt 6) -- up the steep "Mohonk East" hill.  Then continue over and down the "Mohonk West" hill, and continue reversing the loop through Alliger and Accord in the Rondout valley.  Keep reversing by climbing south to meet Rt 44, then turn Left onto Rt 44 East and go up the "Minnewaska West" hill, and continue reversing, over and down the "Minnewaska East" hills, until you reach the junction with Rt 299.  

At this point the reversing stops -- instead continue straight on Rt 44 East, descending until the road levels off in the valley.  Turn around near the horse farm and reverse your route climbing Rt 44 West up to the junction with Rt 299.  At this point just continue straight up Rt 44 West and follow the regular Great Shawangunk Hill Loop route in the normal clockwise direction to its finish.

The "Great Shawangunk Double" route has some special traffic risks -- see the Traffic Discussion page.

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