Trip Reports on 
Rip Van Winkle / Albany bridge loop

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KenR, July 2009:

Sharon and I rode the route in the reverse direction on a nice weekend day, and it worked well for us -- except that we got confused about the roads coming into Albany from the south, and several miles of rt 144 on the west side of the Hudson river seemed bumpier than before, and the bumps are from cracks that go across the whole width of the road so its hard to avoid them. We met a club group at the buffale / bison farm (not many animals this year) and rode with them to Kinderhook. Nice to know that other bicyclists know about how good that area is.

KenR, May 2008:

We started from Catskill and rode south following the In the Shadow of the Catskills route to Round Top.  Then tried going thru Cairo (more food along Rt 23B east of town center). Then Rt 41 to Greenville (with a side trip to East Greenville) -- more businesses than we expected around there, including north of village center on Rt 32. Then continued north thru Westerlo to the Thatcher State Park, then along the viewpoints above the cliffs and down the hill, joined Rt 85 East to continue down, then (with a small detour) continued onto New Scotland Rd.

I don't we'll repeat the sections thru Greenville and Westerlo: Too many hills, not enough reward. Though there were some nice sections between Westerlo and Thatcher State Park. Overall I preferred the route thru Alcove to Voorheesville which we tried in May 2007.

Took that into city of Albany, to the "university heights" section with Albany Medical center and Albany Law school. Then down Holland and Morton to Pearl and Green, and tried the new variation on Green St (which worked OK) to avoid the cobble sections on South Pearl St.

Then south on Rt 144. The section north of the New York Thruway entrance/exit by Selkirk had lots of cracks across the road which we didn't like. Some high-speed traffic, but usually the shoulder was reasonably wide with decent surface. South of Selkirk, Rt 144 got pretty nice, and then Rt 61 from New Baltimore to Coxsackie was very enjoyable, and Rt 385 to Athens was fun too.

KenR, May 2007: West side: Alcove + Schenectady, with North: thru Troy

On a Sunday, Sharon and I started riding from Catskill near the Rip Van Winkle bridge -- but then we didn't ride over the RVW bridge at all that day -- instead stayed almost all on the West side of the Hudson river. Total distance was around 125 miles.

We rode Rt 385 and Bridge St south + west into downtown Catskill and across Kaaterskill Creek, then north + west on West Main St, and north on Greene county Rt 47 to the village of Leeds. Then north on Green Lake Rd (county Rt 49), west on Sandy Plains Rd, and north on Potic Mountain Rd to join . . . the

In the Shadow of the Catskills route -- which took us thru a food stop in Earlton, and (pretty as ever) on north into Albany county on Alcove Rd. Instead of turning east onto Ringwald, we continued on Alcove Rd and it curved west with a view of the Alcove Reservoir and then down a long hill (better than we remembered from years ago) to a T-intersection next to a food store (which was closed on that Sunday).

We went north on Albany county Rt 111, west + north on Rt 143, north on Rt 32 -- then lots of pleasant roads . . . west + north on Lawson Lake Rd (Albany county Rt 109), Tarrytown Rd (county Rt 301 North), Rt 443 East, North Rd (North), Left + quick Right onto Rock Hill Rd (North), New Salem South Rd (West, then North), Rt 85A North, then East into Vorheesville.

Next time we might try going east on New Salem South Rd, east on Rt 85, north on Crow Ridge Rd into Voorheesville.

In Voorheesville we found food near the start of county Rt 201. We took Rt 201 North then West then North, Rt 146 West, Rt 158 North thru Rotterdam, and followed the obvious road (Broadway?) Northeast into . . .

Schenectady, where we took an indoor break in the Amtrak station on Erie Blvd (since we didn't see much like a nice coffee shop open on Sunday). Then Union St to Union College campus (rather pretty + distinctive), northeast across the campus, Nott St (East up hill), at hospital, half Left onto Rosa Rd (northeast), bear Right on Providence Av (East), continues East and becomes River Rd, curves South, meets Rt 158 / Rosendale Rd going southeast.

Next time we might instead try riding northeast from Vorheesville thru Colonie, then north to meet the rail trail at Niskayuna, perhaps visit the SUNY Albany college and Albany law school campuses along the way.

Rail trail: Around Niskayuna, where we got on the rail trail (pretty + pleasant, at first along the south side of Mohawk River) and took that east to Cohoes.  At end of trail we followed green trailway signs into Green Island, then crossed the Green Island Bridge across the Hudson River into the city of . . . 

Troy. We went south a few blocks into the downtown area (which seems to be on an upward trajectory compared to a few years ago), and met our niece for coffee at Illium. Unfortunately we couldn't stay with her for long, since it was well into afternoon and we were late from fighting a headwind the whole way north to Schenectady.

We went back west across the Hudson river on the Green Island bridge, south thru Watervliet on Rt 32 + Broadway, then a left turn thru a little tunnel to get access to the trailway alongside the Hudson River, which we took south to the city of

Albany. No time to see the sights. We just headed west a couple of blocks to Pearl St and south on Rt 32 (which has about four cobblestone intersections which we'd like to find a way to avoid next time).

After that we mainly followed the RVW - Albany bridge loop route south to the Rip Van Winkle, except since we were in a hurry we skipped the side trips in Cooeymans + New Baltimore + Coxsackie + Athens. (next time I'd take the side trip in Athens, since unlike Coxsackie it doesn't add any hills). Rt 144 seemed to have more expansion ruts across its width than I remembered, but most of the rest of that section of the route had good road surfaces and just as pretty as ever.

Maps:  We used these JIMAPCO maps: Greene county, Albany county, and Capital District Supermap (for Schenectady + Mohawk River trailway + Cohoes + Troy).

KenR, October 2005:

Sharon and I rode the whole route with Variations E and G on a very windy and mostly cloudy weekend day. Can't say it was "good as ever", but we were still glad we did it, and surely we'll do it again.

We liked Variation E on the streets of Albany because the buildings and plaza are different from what you see almost anywhere else in the Hudson Valley, the food selection around Lark St, and not too much vehicle traffic on our weekend day.

Ken liked Variation G because the Port of Albany is different from the rest of the ride, but Sharon didn't like it for all the tricky railroad track crossings, and wants us to do the main route next time.

KenR, June 2004:

I did the section on the east side between Hudson and Albany in reverse, on inline skates.  The east side was just as pretty going south-bound, and I still like the farms and the big wide spaces on Rensselaer county Rt 3 and Columbia county Rt 21.

I liked Variation E in the city of Albany, and it was nice to discover more food places that are open on Sunday, especially on Lark St, and also a coffee shop near State and Pearl.

The tough part was getting up the steep hill on Hays Rd.  I stopped and rested a couple of times to make sure I wasn't hurting for the rest of the tour.  After that it was about the slowest tour I've done on skates, because I kept stopping every five minutes to take more pictures.

Nice new pavement (and wider) on much of Columbia county Rt 21, which is what that great section of road deserves.  A pleasant food stop at Bagel Tyme in Kinderhook.

October 2003, Ken:

Sharon and I rode on a cloudy day with rain mists.  Riding up the east side was beautiful -- and then so was riding back down the west side. 

We avoided Rt 9H by taking Variation C, which worked out fine, and has a view of Stuyvesant Falls and some pleasant farms.  Wouldn't have wanted to ride any more miles on Rt 9J than we did.

Rt 32 South thru Albany was under construction -- to add some rough cobble stones at each intersection.

We were getting short on time, so we took Rt 144 south all the way for 10 miles -- and it turned out to be a rather pleasant road -- repaved and wider than we remembered it from ten or so years ago.  [ Rt 144 is now the main main route ]

I think we'll be riding this route more often.

September 1999, Ken:

After riding north up the east side to Albany, we tried to find a way to avoid the section of Rt 144 between Albany and Selkirk. Worked OK for us that day, but overall didn't feel obviously better than just taking Rt 144.

Here's what we tried:

  • South on South Pearl St

  • R  Morton Av

  • cross Delaware onto Holland

  • L  Hackett Blvd
    (another idea might be to continue on Holland to its end at "univesity heights" / Albany Medical Center, then L (West) on New Scotland Rd)

  • T - L  South Manning, quick R to continue on Hackett

  • T - L  New Scotland Rd (lotsa traffic, but mostly felt wide enough for us)
    various food options, later turns southwest, joins Rt 85.

  • L  Rt 140 (southeast, then south), later becomes Elm Av (total about 2Mi until next turn)

  • L  Elm Av (turn comes after intersection with Rt 32)

  • cross Feura Bush, continue South on Elm Av to its end

  • T - L  county Rt 55 Creble Rd (west about 0.4Mi)

  • L  county Rt 53 Old School Rd (cross Selkirk railroad yard)

  • L  county Rt 53 South Albany Rd (south)

  • T - R  Rt 396 / Bridge St

  • L  county Rt 101 South Bethlehem Rd (south)

  • T - R  Rt 9W South

  • L  Winnie Av and other streets south into the village of Ravenna

  • L  Rt 143 / Main St of village of Ravenna

  • T - R  Rt 144 South to rejoin main route.

Story of this route

Ken's story:  We first thought of doing this route because Ken had never been to Albany before, and we wanted to combine that with the concept of riding a Hudson River loop across both bridges.  We first rode it around 1991.

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