Minnewaska via Awosting Portal, Gunk Ridge to Mohonk, via Poughkeepsie: Gravel or Mtn bike

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  • Minnewaska via Awosting Portal, Gunk Ridge to Mohonk, via Poughkeepsie: Gravel or Mtn bike
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General Information
Way Points: 

Poughkeepsie RR Station (start)> Highland Bridge> Hudson Valley Rail Trail> 299> Wallkill Valley Rail Trail> 44/55> CR 7> Tillson Lake Rd> Awosting Portal, Minnewaska SP> Mohonk Preserve> Lenape Lane> R2R Trail> 299> Hudson Valley Rail Trail> Poughkeepsie RR Station (end)


Interest Tags: 
Interest Tags: 
Interest Tags: 
Interest Tags: 
Hank Schiffman
Signature Route : 
Region Name(s): 
Gravel Grinding, The Gunks
Vertical Gain: 
Difficulty Rating: 
5 out of 5
Attached Files
Credit for this route goes to John Z.
N.B. as of 5/29/2023 via Bailey Gap: the bridge over the Thruway on Brookside is closed. You will need to re-route around it if you plan to go this way.
Note of 5/29/2023:
Took the 6:50am train out of GCT and caught the 2:51pm back from Poughkeepsie via Bailey Gap. Keep in mind that I only stopped to refill my water bottle at the Minnewaska Visitors Center and a to snap a few quick pictures.
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail had been resurface with ground gravel, making a faster and smoother ride.
To get a feeling for your pace verse mine, it took one hour to get to the Plattekill Creek Bridge on the WVRT, 1:30 to the intersection of 44/55 & 7. And 2:00 to the start of the Portal ascent.The portal was in surprisingly good shape, but I would be cautious about bombing down it. HS
This is essentailly a gravel bike ride. Other than the 2.5 mile climb up the Awosting Portal of Minnewaska State Park, its connector to the Awosting Lake Trail, and parts of that trail, it is not technical. Ride quality of sections are dependent on local conditions as this ascent is subject to dramatic erosion. The connector from it to Spruce Glen has a few small, but significant rock gardens and mud holes. All other surfaces of the route are carriage trails, hard pack, rail trails and paved roads. Gravel bikes are faster on paved and hard pack, an advantage on this ride, and being lighter than full suspension mountain bikes, they have a weight advantage, power being equal. The Awosting ascent, all of 2.5 miles, gains 1300', averaging a 9.8% grade. [the first mile is 8.7%, the second is 11%, the final half mile is 9.8%] But depending on erosion/trail conditions, black flies in season, power/weight and skill, this climb can be a delight... or a handful. It is the featured technical cycling event of this ride, although there are many quality moments. The route goes up this climb rather than decending it for safety. Riders are better served by reviewing the ascent before attempting the descent on a reverse of this ride. [today, 8/26/2020, the surface was in fine shape, but for one deeply eroded trench that was deep enough to go into the underworld: you would not want to plow into this Grand Canyon on a hell's bells fast descent] The grade kicks up in places, unexpectedly; you would be well-served to keep some power in reserve to meet these challenges ensuring that you keep ascending rather than have to walk the bike and start again on a steep grade. The most vertical sections do back off; you play a bit of cat and mouse with the trail.
After the ascent, the "singletrack" to Lake Awosting is labeled a footpath, although there was no indication that cycling was prohibited when this ride was first posted, see the note below *. Spruce Glen path, this rather short section (0.6 mile) is currently rideable, the connectors on either end of it require caution. Otherwise, Minnewaska is a wonder on bicycle with interesting vegetation, topography and vistas. From Castle Point on a clear day you can see High Point in NJ. Further on you can see Storm King Mtn and Breakneck Ridge as well as an actual view of the distant Hudson River.
Mohonk Preserve offers sweeping vistas of the Gunk ridge looking south, great views of the eastern Catskills, unique geology and native botany. However, to travel thru the Mohonk Preserve you will need a day pass at the least. [otherwise you can descend prior to the overpass, on Lyons Rd, then a right on 44/55, or at the Mohonk Preseve overpass, taking a right on 44/55, then a left on 299 and on to Poughkeepsie] As of this writing (11/13/2021) a Mohonk Preserve day pass for a bike goes for $20. For current rates: https://www.mohonkpreserve.org/visit/hours-and-fees/ Although it may give you sticker shock, the work done on maintaining these carriage roads more than makes up for your cost. Otherwise, you can go online and buy a yearly membership, with bike permit. On the ride you can purchase a day permit with an attendant on the overpass over 44/55 during the ride. Ask for a detailed map. The permit allows cycling on the Mohonk Preserve but not use of facilities or the Mountain House. Walking your bike to view the Mountain House from Lake Mohonk perhaps constitutes a grey area of use, but might induce you to return as a guest.
Study maps and look at the route. Click above for a photo of the Awosting Portal taken from Aumick Rd: there is no sign at the entry. Unless you knew it was there, you would miss it. Look at the map (download above) to understand the route: the Awosting Portal is an essential addition to the park. It is the only access to the park from the south and east, ascending by way of a break in the contours of the ridge, employing switchbacks.
This ride is extensive considering the speed limitations of mtn bikes on roads, or just considering the distance to and from Poughkeepsie's railhead . [You can run higher tire pressure on the way out, reducing it for your ascent if you deem it necessary] Access to and from the Gunk ridge from Poughkeepsie will eat up time. Therefore plan accordingly. On my full suspension mountain bike I took the 7:43 out of GCT to Poughkeepsie and returned on the 4:54, only stopping to take notes and pictures, otherwise I kept riding. My riding time was 5.5 hours. I made the 4:54 by all of 15 to 20 minutes. Therefore to do this ride justice you will need a lot of time and daylight. Today I rode my gravel bike and my average speed was faster. My riding time was just under 5 hours, taking the Bailey's Gap alternative route out, but omitting all aspects of Mohonk Preserve, taking Lyons Rd to 44/55, then 299 to the rail trail after New Paltz: I would recommend a gravel bike over mountain bike.
You will need to carry food and water as you cannot count on availability on route once past Gardiner through to New Paltz on the return. Note that there is a deli in Gardiner just to the east of where you emerge on 44/55 from the rail trail. The new visitors center off the upper parking lot at Minnewaska SP offers water and restrooms. The 3D display map offers a good visualization of the route.
This ride has great merit. Pick a day where you have clear skies so you can appreciate the unique vistas.
The second RWGPS route features an alternate way to get to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, avoiding New Paltz, through Bailey's Gap. It is more scenic, but is hillier, winding through commercial apple orchards and offering distant views of the Gunks and the Catskills. This is an homage to Fred Steinberg, NYCC Route Meister, who founded the route on one of his rides to New Paltz:
* A note on a point of discussion on our Message Board. There is currently a sign on the Spruce Glen path, just a single sign at Lake Awosting at the start of the trail leading to Spruce Glen that states no cycling. Cycling is permitted on the trail around the lake. Cycling is also permitted on the Awosting Portal to Minnewaska SP. The sign at the start permits mountain biking, but a helmet is required. There are no signs designating no cycling facing users ascending from Aumick Rd to Lake Awosting. If in fact there is no cycling permitted on the Spruce Glen path, please walk your bikes the 0.6 miles of that path. That no restrictive sign exists on one end of this path is perplexing. One would conclude cross signals. The path is mostly level, with little chance that bikes will erode it, and foot traffic is infrequent. Although it is a fine, but a bit challenging section to ride prior to posting, NYCC always expects its members to obey the law.
November 13, 2021 HS
August 26, 2020 HS
June 28, 2022 HS
May 29, 2023 HS
cycling trips