Multi-Variant Routes Routes with Dirt Roads

GrNY SGS – Cold Spring

For the second week in the GravelNY Spring Gravel Series we’re riding the dirt roads in and around Cold Spring. There are three distance options:

Short Distance Group

  • 33 miles
  • 2,900 feet of climbing (1,000 in the first 6.5 miles!)

Medium Distance Group

  • 55 miles (can be 51 with a small tweak)
  • 4,770 feet climbing (or 4,520 with “small tweak”)

The medium distance group is a bit of a compromise. It’s difficult to plan multi-speed rides around Cold Spring, so the medium distance ride opts for a lot more pavement and considerably less gravel. But it’s still a very pleasant ride with “enough” gravel to make most gravel riders happy.

Long Distance Group

  • 60 miles (w/ options for ~56 or 53)
  • 6,630 feet climbing (w/ options for 6,380, ~6,010 and 5,800)

Highlights include:

  • Dirt roads
  • A feeling like you’re kinda out in the wilderness
  • Sunken Mine Road
  • Clarence Fahnestock State Park
  • Lunch in Carmel (medium distance group only)

The Route

All the routes start and end at the Cold Spring MetroNorth station.

Route Details

These routes involve considerable riding on dirt roads so 38-53mm tires are recommended. Strong riders may be able to do the ride on 32-35mm tires.

Given the rather large differences in distance between the groups, the medium and large distance groups will start two hours before the short distance group. That will hopefully result in everyone ending around the same time, which will allow us to socialize a bit.

If you need a restroom there are a few which will probably be available near the start:

  • A porta-potty in Foundry Dock Park which is between the MetroNorth parking lot and the river
  • Take the path going north from the northbound platform and there’s a proper public restroom at Main Street.
  • Just after the start when you turn off the gravel path along the river, you’ll see restrooms just across the parking lot.

The starting point is the northbound platform of the MetroNorth station at Cold Spring (not the parking lot side). There’s a gravel trail that starts at the south end of the northbound platform which is what we’ll ride first.

Cold Spring is located at the base of a some fairly substantial hills, so pretty quickly you’ll start climbing. The first little climb is on a small dirt road that’s closed to traffic. When you get to the top of that hill the small distance route diverges from the medium and long distance routes.

The Medium & Long Distance Groups…

The medium and long distance groups then head over to Main Street which they take to get to Jaycox Road which will be the first of many dirt roads. They will then ride on East Mountain Road which is partly paved, partly dirt and skirts the northern boundary of Clarence Fahnestock State Park. All in all there’s 1,400 feet of climbing in the first 7 1/2 miles of the ride!

East Mountain Road (the paved section)

Then those groups drop down about 750 of the 1400 feet they just climbed. At which point there’s a choice – do more climbing, or skip most of the climbing (but also skip a segment of gravel)…

The long distance route hits a segment of gravel on Long Hill Road, but in the process climbs just under 700 feet.

The medium distance route goes about a mile further, stays on paved roads the whole time, but only climbs a bit over 300 feet before it rejoins the long distance route.

That means if you’re with the long distance group and want to reduce the amount of hill climbing, switch to the medium distance route (or start with it). There are queues that will tell you when you need to switch and then switch back. The amount of time you take to do the extra mile shouldn’t be more than the time it takes others to do the additional 350+ feet of climbing. Then you’ll regroup on Miller Hill Road before you cross the Taconic Parkway.

As you might deduce from the name, Miller Hill Road involves yet another hill climb and it’s rather brutal – 625 feet of climbing over 1.2 miles with an average grade of 9.8%(!)

When you’re near the top of the hill you’ll have yet another choice since the medium and long distance groups diverge again. This time it’s the medium distance group that does a longer distance and more climbing. Before the routes rejoin the medium distance route goes about 4 miles further and climbs an additional 250 feet.

So, if you’re doing the medium distance route and you want to take it a bit easier, it’s a good idea to switch to the long distance route after you cross the Taconic Parkway. There are queues that will tell you when to switch routes if that’s something you want to do. Then you’ll regroup and switch back to the medium distance route over by Boyd Corners Reservoir.

If you’re riding the long distance route there’s yet another option that can reduce climbing and distance. Just before Boyd Corners Reservoir if you go straight instead of turning left you can go directly to Boyd Corners Store and skip 4 miles and 250 feet of climbing. Then you can relax at the store while the rest of your group go all the way around the reservoir. (Boyd Corners Store is the lunch stop for the long distance group.)

The medium distance group then diverges significantly from the long distance group. They head to Carmel Hamlet for lunch. The ride is relatively flat and lovely since it goes along the edge of West Branch Reservoir. They do finally get to Boyd Corners Store, but long after the long distance group has had lunch and left.

After Boyd Corners Store the medium and long distance group take some small paved roads to get to one of the best / most lovely sections of dirt roads you’ll find in the New York area – Sunken Mine Road. The short distance group also rides Sunken Mine Road, but in the opposite direction.

Sunken Mine Road

After Sunken Mine Road the groups then go on Indian Brook Road, once again in the opposite direction that the short distance group will go.

At this point the medium and long distance groups once again do a major diversion when they get to Old Albany Post Road (which is a dirt road). The medium distance group heads back pretty directly to Cold Spring. With any luck they’ll encounter either the long distance group or the short distance group in this section of their ride.

The long distance group turns south on Old Albany Post Road and heads away from Cold Spring to do a lot more gravel. They do a big loop: South Highland Road (partly gravel) → Canopus Hollow Road → Horton Hollow Road (gravel) → Sprout Brook Road → Old Albany Post Road. When they get to Canopus Hollow Road they’ll be on the same route as the short distance group and could encounter them at any point after that point since the short distance group started two hours after they did).

The Short Distance Group

Since all three groups have the same ending to their ride, let’s talk about the short distance group before going over the ending of the ride.

As mentioned the short distance group starts two hours after the medium and long distance groups in an attempt to have all three groups finish at roughly the same time. While week one had a longer “short” route, for the short distance group this week is about climbing.

Instead of climbing the hill north of Clarence Fahnestock State Park, the short distance group climbs Indian Brook Road. All in all it’s 1,000 feet of climbing in the first 6 1/2 miles – which is far better than the 1,400 feet of climbing the medium and long distance groups have to do. It also means that 1/3rd of the climbing is completed right at the start of the ride when you have the most energy.

After Indian Brook Road the short distance group goes on Sunken Mine Road and then loops around Oscawana Lake on paved roads before stopping for lunch at Putnam Valley Market.

Right after lunch they ride a short distance to Canopus Hollow Road where they ride the same route as the long distance riders. They then do the bottom portion of the loop that’s done by the long distance group: Horton Hollow Road (gravel) → Sprout Brook Road → Old Albany Post Road (gravel).

Old Albany Post Road

When the route turns off Old Albany Post Road short distance and long distance riders have the option to reduce distance by 3 miles and climbing by 200 feet if they simply continue on Old Albany Post Road.

Following the spec’d route lets the two groups ride gravel on Philipse Brook Road and Avery Road before going on Indian Brook Road a short distance back to Old Albany Post Road.

The Shared Ending

The ending shared by all three groups is relatively short (just over 5 miles). There’s a short gravel section on Old Albany Post Road, then more gravel on Lane Gate Road before dropping down into Cold Spring on paved roads.

We’re suggesting everyone grab a bite to eat on Main Street and meet down by the river in Dockside Park to socialize a bit before heading home. If you get a beer, it’s a good idea to put it into an empty water bottle before getting to the park.

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