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