I mentioned a potential Wednesday gravel ride within last weekend’s event post. A few folks reached out and a trio of us tackled the big climb to the Shawangunk Ridge (i.e. “the gunks”) where Awosting Preserve, Minnewaska State Park, and Mohonk Preserve are all located. It was the first time I’ve cycled in this area, though I’ve hiked here in the past. It was well worth the trip. And worth visiting on a weekday (instead of a weekend) to avoid crowds of hikers on the trails.
The updated route is below. We observed some nice fall colors on the ridge and I suspect it will be getting better over the next week or two.
DETAILS: (also found in the link above)
The main basis for this route is a classic NYCC dirt ride (nycc.org/node/85790/66595).
This route tackles the monster climb up to Awosting Preserve, then tries to cover the main carriage trails of Minnewaska, before heading across the ridge to Mohonk Preserve and back towards Poughkeepsie. You can head towards home before entering Mohonk (see mile marker 52). There may be a $20 trail fee for entering Mohonk. In this direction, on a weekday, there might not be anybody manning a table on that trail (we didn’t see anybody). On a weekend, count on somebody being there to collect the fee.
The dirt climb to the Awosting Reserve is a challenge. You will earn your views. Based on my GPS unit’s altimeter data, Ride with GPS clocked it at 6.7 miles, almost 2000 feet elevation gain, 6.1% average grade, but that included the gently graded sections at the start and end. The main climb was much steeper and more technical in places. Apparently it was >1400 feet over 3.3 miles, 9.0% avg grade, 23% max grade. You’ve been appropriately forewarned.
** Bring extra food and water for this journey. ** And I don’t mean two water bottles and a couple of energy gels. You’ll go either ~38 miles, or 54 miles if the Visitor’s Center is closed, before finding water again. And part of that distance is the considerable climb onto the ridge.
Some additional thoughts:
- We purposely visited on a weekday because Minnewaska can be crowded with hikers on weekends, which is problematic if you are zipping around by bike.
- If you drive and park, you can skip the monster climb, and just enjoy cruising the carriage roads. Alternatively, you can travel in the opposite direction and do the elevation in pieces over a much longer distance.
- Some folks go down the Awosting Portal climb, but it is quite treacherous (particularly on a rigid bike), so use caution. There was a wide trench across the path in one spot, with an exposed drainage pipe in front of it. I would not want to hit that trench at high speed going downhill (this was Oct 2021). There were smaller gullies, too. But most of the rest was in reasonable condition.
- This route takes you onto beautiful cliffside trails within Minnewaska. When you see a sign that says “Sharp Turn”, slow down. You don’t want to skid off the edge of an upcoming cliff.
- You can shorten this route by 11 miles if you head east from the Minnewaska Visitor’s Center (rather than continuing for the extra loop within the park).
OVERALL: A spectacularly beautiful place that can get busy with hikers on weekends. Expect a long and tough climb if you take this particular route to get there. Bring plenty of food and water.