Explore the Catskills by Bike – A Cycling Adventure Awaits!
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The Catskills region of New York is a popular outdoor activities destination in the region You can see people from NY, NJ, PA, CT, and even MA come here for the hills, the wilderness, and the small-village charm. With its rolling hills, winding roads, and stunning views, the Catskills offer a unique cycling experience, in particular. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, mountain biker or road cyclist, the Catskills have something to offer. From challenging climbs to leisurely rides, there is something for everyone. I have experienced this diverse terrain and beautiful scenery by cycling both its mountains and roads over a few trips to the Catskills region.
Exploring the Best Cycling Routes in the Catskills
If you’re looking for a challenging ride, the Catskills have plenty of options. For a leisurely ride, the Ashokan Reservoir Loop is a great option. This route takes you around the reservoir, offering stunning views of the Catskills. The terrain is mostly flat, making it perfect for beginners.
If you’re looking for a longer ride, the Catskills Scenic Trail is a popular route that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the region. This route is mostly flat, making it perfect for a leisurely ride.
For hiking, if your mood strikes, the Devil’s Path is a popular route that takes you through some of the most rugged terrain in the region. This route is not for the faint of heart, but it’s sure to give you an adrenaline rush.
No matter what kind of ride or activity you’re looking for, the Catskills have something for everyone. So grab your bike and hit the trails! Who knows, you might just find your new favorite cycling route in the Catskills.
How I Prepared for a Cycling Trip in the Catskills
I have taken my bikes on many road trips. However much experience I may think I have, there is always a checklist I try to adhere to. This ensures I don’t miss anything critical. Here’s a quick guide I followed to prepare for cycling in the Catskills. You will see how each of the below points are connected to each other.
- What type of ride – My trips usually last 3-4 nights. This lets me rider for a couple of days, to my heart’s content, while also doing other things. But me packing in both a mountain bike AND a road bike for a single trip seemed too ambitious and silly. So I go with only one.
- What you want to ride also determines mapping the correct trails (for a mtb) or road routes (for a road bike). This again affects the gear and accessories. Catskills are very rugged and mountainous. So be prepared for slow climbs and fast drops for both mountain and road cycling.
- Get the Right Gear:
- Your bike properly tuned and ready to ride without any issues. Items to watch out for – inflated tired, brake cables that are in good condition, brake pads that are good (not worn out), and shifters in good working order.
- Accessories- a proper mtb or road helmet, and a tire repair kit with patches, tire levers, extra tubes, extra sealant and CO2 cartridges if you use them. A good working pump is a must.
- Appropriate shoes and clothing depending on your ride type.
- A high-visibility vest/ jacket if riding on the roads. I have seen plenty of trucks hauling logs and heavy machinery on the mountain roads. It is better if they are able to see you on the road.
- Food and fuel – Catskills in the summer can get hot and humid. So bring plenty of water, snacks, and a first-aid kit.
- There are long stretches of road with little to no shade. So apply sunscreen before you head out.
- Communication – cell reception can get spotty depending on where you are. So have a downloaded copy of any maps on your cell phone for offline use.
- After your ride – plan for a quick snack back in your hotel/ room after the ride. This will keep your energy level from dropping and help you keep moving for a bigger proper meal, which most probably you will want soon thereafter.
- Mainly, have Fun: The Catskills are full of beautiful scenery and interesting wildlife. Take some time to enjoy the ride and take in the sights.
My Experience Cycling the Catskills with my Road bike in Summer 2021
I remember taking my mountain bike to the Catskills in 2018. We always stayed at the beautiful Thompson House in Wyndham. It was a quaint and charming hotel with a pool and movie theater on premises. We usually stayed in the room overlooking the hills and the golf course.
The pandemic impacted everyone’s travel for a couple of years. So we went back to the Catskills in 2021. The Thompson House was no more – it was taken over by a bigger company, and as a result, the amenities and services changed. And not to mention the room rates as well. So this time we tried a AirBNB. This turned out to be a great choice since we went with a larger group of friends.
The house was literally on top of a small hill, with rolling roads around it. I had taken my Cannondale SuperSix Evo road bike with me. So on the first day I wanted to “test” the hills that I had planned to ride during my stay, but mainly to see if I had what it takes to ride the hills, since there are very few near where I live.
The first climb was not bad, I thought. The climb started with a small drop, where I picked up momentum and thought little of what was ahead. But what do you know – it got steeper. Was pedaling slowly for a couple of miles till it got more steeper – 8% grade. Not used to steep climbs, this killed me. My legs were burning, and I could not breathe fast enough. So I turned around and literally flew down the road in the other direction. This was the best part of climbs – the ride down the hill. I was able to complete a 10 mile round-trip on flatter roads.
That night I was determined to try the hill again, this time to reach the summit which I saw on day 1 but was unable to reach. So I left early the next morning to beat the heat. My legs were sore and I was tired, but I wanted to give it a try. This time I knew what to expect and made minor adjustments to gearing and overall approach. I did a warmup ride for a few miles on less-hilly roads and then started the climb. I started slower than the previous day, paying attention to the gears and my cadence. I reached the same spot where I turned back but I kept going and reached the summit.
At the summit there was a fork that took me back to the house. It started off with a drop but quickly went up in grade. There were instances of 9% grade where I had to push the bike up. But as expected, the ride down the hill was a blast. Made the climb all the more worth it, as you can see in the elevation chart below. I had climbed about 2000 feet on both days.
I find cycling in the Catskills to be an amazing experience. The scenery is breathtaking, the roads are well-maintained, and the people are friendly. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, the Catskills region has something to offer everyone. With its rolling hills, winding roads, and stunning views, the Catskills are a great place to explore on two wheels. So grab your bike and hit the road – you won’t regret it!
Hope you found this helpful. Check out my other posts as well.