Reports on Hills and Farms
of NE Dutchess County
Sharon + I rode the route (without major variation A) starting early on a warm weekend day. Pretty and pleasant (and hilly) as ever. We added some roads to the south by following the route Harlem Valley Wandering, thru Sharon CT and Wassaic to Amenia, then north on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail to rejoin the main route at Coleman Station.
Sharon + I rode the route with major variation A on a nice weekend day. Seemed better than ever -- like more horses and cows (also sheep + goats) than we remembered from before.
Sharon + I rode the route with major variation A and the first half of variation E on a cloudy weekend day. Despite the atmosphere being less than perfect, we had a fun time. The roads were mostly good, and there was some new paving on the half-mile section of route 22 around mile 29 -- looked like the newly paved surface is a bit wider than it used to be -- should make it a little more comfortable to ride.
The dirt+gravel surface on Fraleigh Hill Rd in the first half of what is now variation E was not all in good condition, and seemed like now the entire length of the road is now dirt -- so the downhill in its southern half was not comfortable for us. We were questioning it the previous time we rode it, so after this time we decided to take it off the main route on the cue sheet, and offer it as a variation instead.
We did your ride last Sunday, and, like all of the others of your routes we've tried, it was lovely. The first 12 miles or so are freshly paved, and make for very smooth riding. A few corrections to the cue sheet:
1. Milepost 30.0: Silver Mountain Road. There is no intersection at 32.0 to turn L on Charlie Hill Rd (s). Luckily, we had a road map with us. Cue sheet should read: Silver Mountain Rd (long uphill). T L 0.4 East Center Rd (DC64) L 1.1 Charlie HIll Rd (south)
2. Milepost 38.9 Leavitt Rd There's no BR onto Fraleigh Hill Rd Actually, if you keep going on Leavitt Rd it becomes Fraleigh Hill Rd without you realizing it. You might also want to put a note that though it's a dirt road, it is pretty smooth and is rideable on road bikes.
3. Milepost 53.0 Market Lane (North) The Prospect Hill Rd intersection is more of a 'Y', the streetsign is at and angle and, especially at the end of the ride, it's not clear (without consulting a map) which way to go. Cue sheet should read: Pass Prospect Hill Rd on L, BR to stay on Market.
Together with a visitor from Hong Kong, China, named Many -- I rode the route with (roughly) Variation Q on a hot weekday. Since Variation Q greatly shortens the route, that enabled us to finish our riding before spending too much time in the afternoon heat. Roads were generally in good condition.
Sharon and I rode it together on a weekend day on our tandem -- pretty as ever and hilly as ever. Mostly good pavement except Sheffield Hill Rd has a rather rough section, and seems like the dirt section on Fraleigh Hill Rd is a longer distance than it used to be -- like the whole thing -- too much for us on the tandem -- we decided next time we'll take the non-dirt alternative Variation -- Sharon said the non-dirt Variation should be the main route instead.
My husband and I just did the N.E. Hills of Dutchess and it was fantastic...so far our favorite....we live in Westchester County and find Dutchess breathtaking. Thanks again.
Last October, and again last weekend (August 04), Ancramdale was the place to be, at least for breakfast, lunch, or ice cream. Both the former General Store (now called The Farmer's Wife), and the bakery-cafe (The Cinnamon Twist) were open and in fine form, though by 9:30 AM there was hardly room to squeeze one more bike alongside. Very handy for breakfast after overnighting in Copake or environs.
Unseasonably warm on Nov. 1 made for a great ride. All roads in good shape, and the formerly loose surface on Separate Road is gone. I note that, although listed as unsigned on your cue sheet, Coleman Station Road/DC 58 now has signage (peek to the right) when you cross it from the rail trail. Great downhills (hit 48 mph), and big uphills -- I recommend the Silver Mountain Rd/Charlie Hill Rd. loop to avoid the big hill on Route 5.
Sharon and I rode it on our tandem, and it was a pretty as ever. With great luck, we actually met Rona and Mark with their bicycles -- they were exploring yet another variation on the route.
At Millerton, we discovered that the pasta place partway up the hill on Main St from the rail trail crossing also sells fresh bakery things, so we stopped there for a light lunch. Then we took variation B south from Millerton, since we had ridden the Connecticut section recently. Don't remember any problems with any of the roads.
July 2003, Email from Greg:
The scenery was fantastic and as you described, the hills kept coming and coming. On one section you gave a choice of short and steep or long and gradual. My friend and I took the latter and it just seemed like we were climbing Mt. Everest! When we got back to the parking lot at the Elementary school, there was only one other car parked there. Next to it was a guy putting away his bike. He looked at us and said "Ken Roberts website, right?" He came up from the city by himself after his wife gave him some time off from parenting their 3-month old kid.
We just did the Hills and Horse Farms of NE Dutchess ride yesterday (June 15th) on a spectacularly beautiful day. We have done this ride several times now, and it's one of our favorites too.
We did Variation A, and a variation of variation B -- instead of the roads we pick up the Rail Trail in Millerton (off S. Center St.) for a four mile section that's (slightly) downhill and a pleasant surprise for someone who normally doesn't like trails. It leaves you off at Coleman Station Rd (unsigned - it's just when you get to the parking lot.)
We also returned on the “alternative” finish that you mention, and just loved it – especially how the Bangall Amenia road becomes a soaring downhill for the last two miles. Total of 57 miles. The roads are all in great shape.
A few updates. The general store in Shekomeko appears to be shuttered/closed, and the general store in Ancramdale (on Variation A) is under new management and has become a small restaurant with minimal general store-type items (although they have take-out food, and some gatorade, but it’s more "upscale" food than your standard deli) -- and the bakery across the road was also closed -- so you should be aware that there aren’t a lot of places to buy provisions along the route if you do Variation A until you get to Millerton. Bringing your own sandwiches is probably the best bet.
Also, Variation A is longer than you say – the Under Mountain Road leg recorded at over 10 miles on both our odometers. (Not that it's still not worth doing...)
June 2002, excerpts from E-mails from Howard:
Beautiful horse & dairy farm country for much of the way, but note that a big cow smell comes with the big cow scenery. Some rough pavement along the way (I'm on 700c/23 road bike tires). I decided to take the "shortcut" up Smithfield Road -- that uphill is very steep. I have to thank you for your excellent route map and directions for when to turn.
October 2001, report by Ken Roberts:
Sharon and I started at the Cold Spring Elementary School on a chilly fall day. It was past peak foliage, but still some orange leaves on the trees -- and you can see more with some of the leaves off. Since it was cool, we did the 42-mile version. It was as pretty as ever. We saw more horses than before, a few cows, more sheep than ever, even some llamas and water buffaloes. We stopped at a new coffee shop in Millerton next to the Chinese restaurant, and had a happy lunch and warmed our toes.
Out among the farms in the Ten Mile River valley South of Millerton, we couldn't resist adding a few miles to explore some extra roads, which was rewarding. We went back to the car by way of Bangall, and decided we like the longer finish through Clinton Corners better. But our cold toes were glad for the shortcut.
Fall 1999, report by Ken Roberts:
Greg, Sharon, and I went out on a beautiful fall weekend day. Greg suggested we continue on north beyond Route 199 into Columbia county. And so we did, and it was great (and we later added it to the route description as "Major Variation A"). Later we got to the rough dirt section of Separate Rd -- and found out that it wasn't dirt any more -- it had been paved in the past few months. It was a fun day of exploration and riding on a route that's now gotten even better.
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