Trip Reports on Harlem Valley
(Wassaic to Ancramdale to Copake Falls)
Sharon + I parked in Amenia on a weekend day, rode most of the route, also most of variation C. Noticed that significant parts of our route were painted with arrows from the Harlem Valley event organized by Bike New York -- and later rode along with some of the participants. Great day for us, scenery as wonderful as ever.
One problem: Bridge closed for construction at Amenia
Union, mile 53.5 on the cue sheet, intersection of Connecticut rt 41
with Dutchess county rt 2.
(this bridge also used on the route Harlem Valley Wandering -- could check for further reports for that)
Sharon + I met Tony at the Metro North Wassaic station (he took the first train up from Manhattan) and rode most of the route along with variation C -- but made some variations. Food stops at Amenia, Ancramdale, and Hillsdale.
Actually Sharon + I parked at Rudd Pond state partk and started earlier riding south thru Millerton and Sharon CT to Wassaic -- and it was great to be out early on a sunny weekend morning. Some fresh gravel on Downey Rd, and some of the surface on Skunks Misery Rd had coarser stone than I remembered.
After Ancramdale we rode directly to Under Mountain Rd, then north on the rail trail to Copake, and then east into Massachusetts and left our bike and hiked a little to Bash Bish Falls.
The climb up Rt 344 was less steep than I feared. Then it got much steeper just as we crossed the state border into Massachusetts, but then it was only a short distance to the dirt service road where we got off our bike. Maybe we'll visit Bash Bish Falls more often.
Then we rode Variation C in reverse direction from Copake Falls, starting north climbing up North Mountain Rd. Perhaps the views were a little nicer in this direction, and most of the descent was more interesting -- until it finished straight down steeply into a stop sign on high-speed Route 22. We also did part of Variation D in reverse Collins St was nice to Rt 22, then south to Hillsdale. But then we skipped Copake and Copake Falls, and after Overlook Rd just rode south on Rt 22 a long ways must of the way back to our start at Rudd Pond
Sharon and I rode it on a weekend morning, together with Variations C + D. Seemed more wonderful than ever. Alas one of the two bakery-snack places in Ancramdale has closed now. But we found a nice snack + coffee place (www.bgwine.com) up in Hillsdale (variation C), and two new snacking food places in Millerton (along Rt 44 a little west from the main route).
Excellent ride. With the extension of the Amenia Millerton Rail Trail South to Wassaic station, cyclists may get on to the ride using this trail north to the first crossroad and then turning right instead of going south on 22.
Sharon and I went out on a misty day on our tandem bicycle. We didn't ride the whole route, but we were very happy with all the parts we did. We started and finished in Amenia, so we didn't do the start from Wassaic or the main route's finish from Sharon CT.
We took the main route from Amenia to Copake. It was our first time riding the new route north of Amenia on Mygatt and Perry Corners. Actually the cue sheet and map on the website on that day still had the old way -- but we liked the new roads a lot, so we changed route on the website a few weeks later.
The big climb up Skunks Misery Rd was in the midst of being repaved -- and they actually put up a road sign to show where it starts from McGhee Hill Rd. With the mists that day, we didn't get the full big view from the ridge, but the closer views were more interesting. I remember saying, "If only riding in Ireland could have been this good."
We had lunch in Ancramdale, with its choice between a bakery on one side of the road and a deli-bakery on the other side. I sampled both. The deli-bakery has re-opened with a new interior and a new name. We found Mid-Hudson Bicycle Club members Tom and Ron eating there, so we joined them.
At Copake we did a little extra exploration and discovered a farm store we hadn't visited before, on Rt 7A northwest from the center of town, so we sampled some ice cream -- and talked with two other riders doing the same.
From Copake we decided to head back south toward Amenia by riding Variation B in reverse. Weed Mine Rd going south was prettier than I remembered. On a day when when my legs were up for non-steep hill climb, I'd take it again as an alternative to the rail trail. A little south of Rudd Pond, we tried a little "triangular" side trip to just over Connecticut state border, but that didn't seem very worthwhile.
When we reached Millerton, we had an afternoon snack of scones and stuff at the pasta place a little ways up the hill on Main St from the rail trail crossing. Another fine hillside view continuing our reversal of Variation B southward.
At Coleman Station, we tried some exploration that backtracked some -- Reagan Rd to Taylor Rd to Indian Lake Rd going northeast into Connecticut. Then south on Rt 361 and Sharon Valley and Sharon Station Rd. More pretty country, a couple of steep but non-long climbs. Finished by joining Variation A in reverse and the rail trail back to Amenia.
It's confirmed as a favorite for us.
April 2002, Patrick:
Last week we followed your route "Harlem Valley Rail to Trail to Falls" and had a SUPERB ride. It opened us up to a whole new area to ride in. The roads were great - very little traffic- and the countryside was spectacular. It was exciting to ride in a new place that wasn't far away from home. It was snowing shortly after starting the ride, but that only added to its specialness.
July 2001, Ken Roberts:
Tony took the first Metro North train up from Manhattan. To get all the way to the end of the line at Wassaic, on that Sunday morning they changed him and his bike to a bus at Brewser North. Sharon and I were already staying with family upstate, so we put our tandem on the car and drove over and parked at the Wassaic train station (free parking on weekends) and met Tony and his bike there at ten o'clock.
We started out riding from there, and within 15 minutes we were pedaling past goats and cows. We spent the rest of the day exploring a different world, of quiet roads, trees and fields and farms, and great views from (mostly) friendly hilltops. Our big "experiment" was trying to climb Skunks Misery Road. Sharon and I had ridden it a long time ago from a different direction and saw no reason to repeat it. But from the perspective of this route starting in Wassaic, it turned out that after a short steep start up from the highway, it was the easiest way to get up onto the ancient north-south ridge, and pretty too. Little misery and no skunks.
When we got to the top, we saw another road in a beautiful setting further north on the ridge. After a pleasant downhill run, we decided to try another one from our old past -- and we were now riding on the road we had just been looking at, Winchell Mountain. We continued along the ridge with a pretty farm, and then we reached the rather fine descent -- with a view across all of Columbia county to the Catskill mountains.
We cruised down almost the whole three-and-a-half miles -- to Ancramdale, which is a special place: a tiny village in the middle of "nowhere" with a post office -- and two bakeries, at least one of which is unlike any you'll find in Manhattan. After lunch there, we took the "Weed Mines" variation to Copake Falls, the upper end of the route, and decided we had time for the side trip to Bash Bish Falls. It's a pretty waterfall, but it does take some work and walking to get there.
Then we cruised back south, with a drink stop in Millerton, and a stiff climb to get into Sharon, Connecticut -- but the remainder was different farms and fields, and hills that we could enjoy looking at without climbing.
But we miscalculated: We reached the village of Wassaic before five o'clock. We had been too fast coming back south. So we got some snacks at the little store, and then rode the half-mile and last hill to the train station. And we sat and talked, and it's actually a somewhat pretty place to wait for a train late in the afternoon. Lots of people started showing up to wait for the train, more than I would have expected on a Sunday afternoon. And than it arrived -- a real train this time -- and Tony got on the 6:11 and went home to Manhattan.
All the roads were in good condition.