Back on River Road in a parking area for a scenic hike called Poet’s Walk, on a property that’s thought to be the inspiration for Rip Van Winkle. This preserve has a scenic trail that borders the Hudson River and provides a phenomenal view of the Catskill Mountain range to the west. Not designated an Empire State Trail parking area, it served the purpose well on a breezy Tuesday in April.
Once on the road, riding north I quickly found myself wandering through Bard Colleges campus, riding by their Fisher center for the performing arts, a Frank Gehry design. I admired the building as my bike coasted past, thinking to myself what freshman students in the choir must think as the room surrounds them with sound for the first time, singing in such a remarkable structure must be a lifetime achievement for some.
After the huge caterpillar-like building, the bike trail takes a fast right-hand turn through a parking lot and into a marsh, then up a hill and into the woods. Like much of the trail in this area, surface transition back and forth from stone dust to paved for several miles. Farm fields, horse pastures, and dairy farms dot the EST all the way to Tivoli.
When I arrived in the village of Tivoli there was a construction project underway on the trail and in the middle of Broadway, the main intersection in town. No visible EST signs in sight, I chose to go straight and quickly found a brand new coffee hut called “All That Java”. The young woman running the shop was enthusiastic and helpful, I ordered an iced coffee and took a few minutes at the picnic table in the yard to switch batteries in my Go-Pro.
Taking a left out of the All That Java’s parking area I rode for several blocks passing well-kept homes with doors painted in pastels as signs offering local maple syrup for sale. As I reached the end of the street it took a hard right, but no EST signs. After a few hundred yards I came to another unmarked road and decided to turn left toward a farm field, the road gradually turned west and followed the field for about ¼ mile. When I reached the next corner I finally realized I was once again all mixed up, so I turned around to visit Kaitlin and ask for help. Turns out she’s from Red Hook and wasn’t sure so I forged ahead taking a left on Broadway but that didn’t work either. Finally, upon returning to the center of town and checking in with the EST app I was directed to Woods rd. riding west on Broadway and there it was an Empire State Trail sign.
I’d fallen head over heels for Tivoli, a little town I’ll always think fondly of. Now peddling north, I found myself back at the intersection on the edge of the long field I’d ridden through 30 minutes earlier.
The next 7-8 miles of the trail are well marked and on lonely roads where very few cars passed by. After a country road that winds through more farms and crosses a bridge over a stream in a gully, at the end of the steep rise, I came to an unmarked intersection at Dales Bridge and Wire rd. It was time to stop for a peanut butter sandwich and a quick check of the EST app. Luckily there were a few bars of cell service and I was able to determine that this intersection is in fact on the trail. The helpful instructions directed me to turn left. Finally, after about 160 miles on the trail, I’m getting the hang of referring to the EST resources.
After riding through a few more hamlets and another 4 miles of road I came to yet another intersection that seemed unmarked for EST but well marked with a sign for Hudson. I decided to take the left and feel my way into town, several miles of road riding on 9G later I rode past a large correction facility sign and rolled down the road to Warren Street where Charlie was waiting. We loaded the gravel bike in the back of his truck, walked down the street to Grazin, a local diner, and enjoyed a cold glass of iced tea.
On the shuttle ride back to Poet’s Walk to pick up my truck Charlie gave me a quick tour through Olana, another history soaked public facility which shares a museum (once a mansion owned by a Hudson Valley painter) and never-ending views of the Hudson River from the top of a hill. Then we stopped for dinner at Rivertown lodge, I enjoyed crispy-skinned striped bass in a pool of buttermilk with salsa verde, roasted carrots, and a snip of dill, a perfect end to my adventurous day.