Trip Reports on 
Wandering Northwest Columbia

KenR, October 2009:

Sharon and I rode the whole route on a weekend day, and it was great for us again. One of the first times we've done it without the start-finish in Philmont.

Instead we combined it with most of the Tour de Columbia West route, and connected between them (in both directions) on Columbia county route 22 (between Letter S Rd and Orchard Rd). So that's a new long route for us in Columbia county, around 70-85 miles, more or less depending on which parts of Tour de Columbia West to cut out or leave in.

Since the TdCWest route most of easily allows "shortcuts" its southern and central sections, we found that it helped to start riding after the city of Hudson but before the connection to Wandering NW. That way we had completed all of Wandering NW before starting into the central and southern sections of TdCWest, so we knew how much time we had remaining and how our legs felt. We actually chopped out two sections of the Tour de Columbia West route.

Also unusual, we rode both dirt sections on the main route, because they were in pretty good condition. We also checked the GPX files, and they worked fine for navigating the route with our GPS.

KenR, August 2007:

Sharon and I rode most of the route with variation G, except we didn't do the first 3 miles south and west from Ghent (because we had started riding in Claverack), and we didn't ride Hartigan Rd because we already ridden enough dirt that day.

Lots of fun riding as usual. We also explored several other roads around Valatie -- while they weren't quite as nice as the main route, it showed us (again) that it's lots of fun just to try new roads in Columbia county. The village of Valatie had lots more flowers and food options than the last time we'd visited there, so we'll start including it on future rides.

Joel M, October 2006:

I rode the Wandering Northwestern Columbia ride with the Philmont start today As far as the main part of the ride, everything was exactly as advertised.

The sculpture garden was very interesting. They allow bicycles on the premises, and they even have "loaner" bikes available This being a weekday in late OCtober, there were none. Admission is free and there is even a Port-a-potty well supplied with toilet paper.

The dirt roads are in adequate shape. The cafe at mile post 30.5 is under new management, and has a good choice of soup and sandwiches. The home made pasta fagioli was quite satisfying. As for the Philmont extension, on the finish section at mile 2.5, I did not see a sign for Fred's farm. The main road, however, obviously bears right there. There are no signs for Columbia 21, but there is a sign that says Rigor Hill Road Looking at the map, it looks like the name of Water street changes to Harlemville road at that intersection. Nonetheless, if you follow the directions given, and just follow the main road there, you will get to the end of the ride without any problems.

How come Rensselaer County does not have signs saying "Welcome to Rensselaer County" when Columbia County has those signs on the same roads? Do they really not want you? Great ride. Keep up the good work.

KenR: November 2003:

Sharon and I met John in Philmont.  It was cloudy but rather warm for early November.  We started off on the Philmont Start variation and took that to join the main route.

John told us about this sculpture garden he had found, so we started searching -- and discovered some remarkable big outdoor sculpures.  It was the Art Omi center, right beside the main route at the intersection of CC Rt 22 with Letter S Rd.

We then took Variation D.  Merwin Lake Rd was rough, but quiet, and the lake was pretty.  There was a substantial extra climb going west on CC Rt 21, but this was rewarded with a long downhill (which eventually did end at at stop sign).

Pleasant lunch at Bagel Tyme in Kinderhook.  Next we tried some different roads, because we had all recently ridden the wonderful miles on CC Rt 21 west and north from Kinderhook.  Instead we followed the Kinderhook Ramble route to Schodack Landing Rd / RC Rt 2 and rejoin the main route.

When we reached Rt 66, John had to get back home early, so he left us to take a more direct route back to Philmont.  Sharon and I continued on the main route.  Shaker Museum Rd was wonderful as always, and then on CC Rt 13 south we discovered a ranch with many beautiful alpacas (sorta like llamas) -- just before the turn for Highland Rd.  After stopping to view the animals closer, we walked our tandem up the steep section on the dirt of Highland Rd, then got back on the bike to enjoy some remote farms.  Later the dirt on Hartigan Rd was worse than we remembered. (perhaps this is avoidable?)

For our snack stop, we tried the Chatham Country House.  We had a rather pleasant time there, but somehow forced ourselves to get out and finish the ride.  More climbs followed by long descents with pretty views, and more interesting cow farms.

What struck me at the end of the day was how quiet it had all been, and how many farms we had seen with animals other than horses -- especially cows.

KenR, July 2001:  

Sharon and I started in Philmont on a nice cool day.  After a stiff climb out of town before we were warmed up, the roads were prettier than we remembered.  We explored a lot of roads around CC Rt 22 and CC Rt 21, then had lunch in Kinderhook.  We stopped to say hello to the mother and baby horses along CC Rt 21, and enjoyed the big views across the farmland.  

Then we handled the ups and downs heading eastward, and then turned south across the Mass Pike / Thruway extension.  It was pretty going by the Shaker Museum and nearby farms.  

When we saw that Highland Rd was dirt, we tried to avoid it by continuing south on Rt 13, then east on Rock City Rd.  But the climbing came in several steep-ish sections with non-rewarding downhills in between.  So we decided to check out Highland Rd after all.  The steep hill at its north end looked pretty intimidating, but we kept on pedaling steadily, and made it up on our tandem. 

Then we climbed some more Rock City Rd eastward, and reached a beautiful view at the top.  Just then our rear tire went flat -- but it was a fine place to fix it.  After that we headed down to Route 295, which past experience said was not much fun.  But it was newly paved and wide in this section -- and we saw that we had been there before driving our car and remembered that there was a food stop nearby.  What a pleasant surprise in an exploratory ride.

Birge Hill was much less difficult than we feared, and then Clark Rd was pleasant.  Then after starting with a climb, CC Rt 9 was prettier than we expected, and soon we were in Ghent.  Some more climbing (with care on routefinding on unsigned roads), then a last downhill cruise into Philmont. 

see also: 

 Overall Description of this route Overview Map for this route Route directions Cue Sheet  


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Story of this Route 

Ken's story:  We explored this route to find a nice set of roads around Kinderhook longer than the Kinderhook Ramble, and also to find another way to link Kinderhook to the nice riding toward southeast Columbia county. 

Sharon and I had long ago discovered that we enjoyed riding to Kinderhook from southeast Columbia (see Grand Tour of Columbia County).  Then we find that we enjoyed other roads around there, especially CC Route 21 -- which we first made part of the Rip Van Winkle to Albany bridge-to-bridge river loop, and later the Kinderhook Ramble

One fall day in 1999 or 2000, Greg joined us in Kinderhook for an exploratory ride.  We started on CC Rt 21, then headed East along the Rensselaer county border as in this route.  But from the Shaker Museum we continued east into the hills of northeast Columbia -- which had some pretty moments, but overall had too much hill-climbing work with too little reward. 

Sharon and I came back in July 2001 with the ideas of the north-to-south section of the current route, which we connected with a start-finish in Philmont on roads we already knew.  And with some corrections of the details, it worked.  In fact, the new north-to-south roads were more beautiful than we guessed. 

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