Slide Mountain: The highest paved pass in the Catskills. At approximately 2700 feet, it isn’t much compared to the Rockies, but the climb up is…special, with extended grades of up to 16% and a few sections where you think you’re done, but really you’re not. Slide Mountain is a tease, but more about that later. This is, incidentally, the second of the eight major climbs I want to complete this year.
Here’s the route. It’s 127 miles, and features several climbs that you won’t forget, followed by significant downhill segments where you can really get flying—I’m talking about 50 mph or more for extended periods.
The elevation profile is decidedly exciting. There are two major climbs. The first—which I think is actually more difficult–is on Crump Hill Road. The second is Slide Mountain proper.
The route begins, of course, at my place, and leads quickly to Route 28. Route 28 is a relatively busy road, but the scenery is beautiful, and the shoulder is an entire lane wide. So it’s safe, and as importantly (given the climbing you will do later in the day) it is flat. Don’t be scared by the slow ramp up between miles 15 and 26, it genuinely feels flat.
Right around here is where I stopped to answer a work call (yes, on a Saturday). I left my phone on a park bench near Phoenicia, so if you happen to see a scratched up Galaxy III, you know how to reach me! Seriously, though, it was a blessing—I hated that phone because it had no reception in my house. My girlfriend has been happily making and receiving calls with her iPhone, so that’s what I’m going with.
Anyway…Route 28 will lead you to Route 42, which carries you up into the hills and onto Crump Hill Road.
I passed a shack that was deteriorating in an appealing manner on my way up.
I didn’t take any pictures while I was climbing, for obvious reasons. Slide Mountain is a bitch, let me tell you. There’s a somewhat level area about half way up that makes you think you’re done, but you’re not. Go around the hairpin, and you’ll have another 700 feet of climbing! Don’t make my mistake: I sprinted up the first 500 feet of the climb, thinking it was easy. Then I rounded the bend. Ouch.
Here I am at the top of the climb. Proof.
After Slide Mountain, you’ll be rewarded with many happy miles of descending on Frost Valley Road, with a only a few bumps to interrupt the bliss.
I took a detour on Lost Clove Road, thinking that a lost clove would be interesting. It wasn’t (and it turned my 117 mile ride into a 127 mile ride).
At times, I felt like I was in the Pacific Northwest, because the foliage trends towards evergreens, rather than deciduous trees. This is my favorite bend in the road. Unfortunately, the contrast between the very sunny day and the deep shadows made it difficult to capture a good picture, but if you click on it to see the full size it doesn’t look too bad.
A substantial segment of Frost Valley Road parallels a good-sized stream. I have never seen water this clear.
Much to my disappointment, I ran out of camera battery around here. Actually a good thing because I was wasting too much time documenting the route. From here, you ultimately descend into Grahamsville, and then it’s rolling countryside all the way home, with a nice decent on Irish Cape Road into Naponach and dinner (or lunch, if you’re faster than me).
It was an absolutely perfect day, only one of a long succession of perfect days we’re had recently. I highly recommend this route; if you need it shortened up, or a few climbs eliminated, let me know and I’ll gladly redraw it for you. No avoiding Slide Mountain, though!
And finally, an announcement…we’re planning another gentleman’s ride next week, probably 70 or 80 miles. So if you want to try some distance riding in beautiful country at a decidedly non-challenging pace–and you can make it up here next weekend–please contact me. We stop for pictures, for lunch, for dinner, for water bottle refills, and sometimes just because we feel like it. No deadlines except trying to get it done during daylight hours. I won’t say it’s easy because there are some pretty stiff climbs on the route I’m planning, but there will be plenty of opportunities to rest and enjoy the day. Come on up!