Tuesday morning tossed me in the mixer again.
Having cruised through New Paltz on Monday, signs for the Empire State Trail along the main drag had me convinced that all I needed to do the following day was to cross the river and make my way to the parking area on Springtown road. Little did I know that what I thought was the Empire State Trail was actually the Ridge to Ridge Trail. Signs in the middle of New Paltz at the 208 intersections must be for walkers, not bike riders. As it turns out the bike trail actually hangs a right just after crossing the 1-87 overpass.
Once that was figured out, I was on my way to meet Charlie. Riding through the outskirts of New Paltz on local roads is pleasant, well marked with signs and symbols painted on the road. After about a mile and a half, I came to a hard right turn onto a soft nature trail marked Empire State Trail and Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. This is the beginning of what they refer to as the “stone dust trail” section on the EST map.
Stopping at the intersection I checked my phone to learn that my riding partner for the day Charles Whittingham had experienced a similar mix-up in Kingston.
It was 11 am and we were both in the trail, destined to meet in Rosendale an hour later.
The trail transitions from soft to a harder stone dust surface in the Rosendale area and riding through woods, over several bridges, and past what looks like civil war-era brick factories. We pulled into Kingston at about 12:30. Kingston isn’t any easier to navigate than other villages that I’ve ridden through. We made our way to the other side of town where I was pleased to see the Revolution Bicycle shop on Hasbrouck Avenue, right on the EST. We stopped and made a quick visit, Revolution is a well-stocked professionally run shop with happy staff providing welcome advice. Continuing toward the waterfront we needed that advice as there were several quick turns in a residential area. One hard left onto an old sidewalk with a steep pitch to the river, the long thin cement sidewalk seemed out of place for EST but it provides a critical link to what opens up to be one of the most magnificent sections of trail I’ve seen yet.
Riding through the business area of the waterfront, we passed a large restaurant called Ole Savanna which could be a perfect lunch stop, but we peddled on. We then passed 4 original PT boats from WW2. Continuing on through yet another residential area, after a few more turns, following EST signs we came to a resort area under construction followed by a magnificent mile of trail through a manicured Hudson Riverside park. It’s like a golf course with no greens, just walkers and a few folks like us amazed to be riding on a perfectly paved pathway.
After another mile of road riding, we came to the entrance for the bridge over the Hudson River.
Unlike the walking bridge, this span is all business. It’s thin access and signs at each entry point stating that bike riding is not allowed, walking required. The bridge is roughly a mile long, the wind was blasting out of the south. Views spectacular, we watched a windsurfer sailing across waves on the Hudson below at a high rate of speed. Stopped for a few minutes at the flag in the middle to take in the views and then proceeded to the eastern end.
Once back on our bikes, the ride follows a small highway for about ½ mile until it takes a left turn at a light near a farm stand on River road. At this point, the stone wall-lined road winds its way north past apple orchards, turn of the century estates, homes with dreamy porches, and horses grazing in pastures. We rolled up to the entrance of Bard College in Annandale on Hudson and decided to call it a day.