Credit for this route goes to John Z.
This is a mtn bike ride but could be done by a very skilled rider on a cyclocross bike. Other than the 2.5 mile climb up the Awosting Portal of Minnewaska State Park, it is not technical. All other surfaces are carriage trails, hard pack, rail trails and paved roads. Cyclocross bikes are faster on paved and hard pack, an advantage on this ride. 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.
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), should be approached cautiously, if only for the rock strewn surface. 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 the right, and follow 44/55 to 299 and on to Poughkeepsie] As of this writing the day pass goes for about $25. Although it may appear expensive, the work done on maintaining these carriage roads more than makes up for your cost. You can go online and buy a yearly membership for $60, 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. The Map is a photo of the Awosting Portal taken from Aumick Rd, as there is no sign at the entry. You will have to study the map to understand the route as the Awosting Portal is a recent addition to the park:
This ride is extensive considering the speed limitations of mtn bikes on roads. [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. 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.
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. And in season there is food van in the parking lot above Lake Minnewaska.
This route has great merit. Pick a day where you have clear skies so you can appreciate the unique vistas.
* A note on a point of discussion on our Message Board. There is currently a sign on the Spruce Glen path, just at Lake Awosting that states no cycling. Cycling is permitted on the trail around the lake. Cycling is also permitted on the Awosting Portal to Minnewaska SP. There is no sign at that junction. 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 sign exists on one end of this path is perplexing. The path is mostly level, with little chance that bikes will erode it, and foot traffic is infrequent. Although it had been fine, but a bit challenging section to ride prior to posting, NYCC always expects its members to obey the law.
(Google Earth file: activity_375764946.kml)
November 27, 2019 HS