(Retrospective note: I have also mapped this complete route out of Poughkeepsie. You can find it here.)
This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to have excellent weather for what I thought would be a quick 52-mile ride up and over Peekamoose Road, a narrow, poorly maintained road passing through the Catskills. This was the route I developed on Ride With GPS; I planned from the beginning to follow it only loosely because I wanted to explore some of the side roads that extend off of Peekamoose into the deep mountains.
I had planned on getting an early start. However, my wonderful girlfriend decided to cook me breakfast, so it wasn’t until 10 am that I set out with a belly full of pancakes and fruit salad.
The route starts with Grassy Ridge Road, a rolling but easy warmup for what’s to come. I definitely needed the warmup after that breakfast.
We continue on High Point Mountain Road, which leads past the Ashokan Reservoir. This is the low point of the ride. Not emotionally…in elevation.
Watson Hollow Road leads into the mountains. I took my first detour here onto Moon Haw Road, which leads high into the mountains and ends in what looks like a few trails into the park.
The climbing begins with a slow and painful crawl up Peekamoose. The climb is steady from mile 8.0 to mile 13; maximum grade, 16.5%. I was swearing at myself by the time I got to the top, and I took a few moments to contemplate the sheer stupidity of what I do for fun. As a note, you’ll want to carry ample water and perhaps some food if you are taking this route during the off season, as there are no convenience stores for a refresh. During the season, you’ll see a shed at about the half way point, run by a local who sells the basics.
Once you make it the top, though, you are rewarded with a high-speed 7-mile descent into the next big climb, and some very nice scenery.
If you’re using my GPS route (link below), note that your GPS will occassionally indicate that you are off course. You’re not, and your GPS will find the route again in a few seconds. It’s not like there are any other roads to take, anyway.
Peekamoose tops out at 2100 feet after a second climb (not as brutal as the first). I know it’s not much compared with the Rockies, but it’s what we have to work with. From what I understand, though, the roads around here are a lot less forgiving–that is to say, the people who planned and built them didn’t give a damn about extended 15% to 22% grades (more about that later, when I write about Platte Clove).
Here’s the view from the top of the ride.
From Peekamoose, I turned onto Mill Road, which after a terrifying descent on broken pavement quickly turns into gravel. At exactly the wrong time, meaning just when you’ve hit 50 mph from the descent.
From there, it’s a quick trip on Route 55 to Naponach and a diner with edible food. You’re looking at the Gunks in this photo; if you continue on 55 you can climb up and over, ending up in New Paltz and, ultimately, Poughkeepsie. There are easier ways to get there, though.
The route as shown is 53 miles. With exploratory detours, I rode 72 miles with about 7300 feet of climbing. Not counting the 5-mile section on route 209, I probably saw 10-15 cars the entire day.
A good day.
This route is definitely worth your while. Add in a trip to and from Poughkeepsie (preferably over the Gunks) and you can have a great 100-mile day. I’ll post later this month on good routes from Poughkeepsie to the starting points of my rides.
The complete GPS route can be found here.