Escape The NYC Crowds And Bike The Catskills

on July 8, 2013


The Catskills can be a wonderful cycling experience regardless of your skill level. The scenic landscape of these mountains tower over you from 3,000 feet up, both challenging and inspiring you to pedal on through some of the best trails in the eastern United States.

The Catskills offer challenging trails as well as refreshingly easier ones. If you’re a daredevil, there are also some tantalizingly fast downhill stretches.

With more than 6,000 sprawling square miles, it can be hard to know where to start in the Catskills. So, here are some pointers.

Start things off simply with The Catskill Scenic Trail, a 19-mile Rails to Trails project that offers a hard-packed surface and breathtaking scenery. This trek is just gentle enough to whet your appetite for some tougher action.

Alright. So let’s ramp things up a bit and head out to Plattekill Mountain. This spot is a serious U.S. cycling highlight. If you want, you can even arrange to have your bike dropped off out here. Located in Roxbury, NY., this area really supports the cycling community and hosts a solid number of race events.

For about $35 you can get an all-day pass, including lift access for Plattekill Mountain Bike Park. Generally, the park is open from late April to early November from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unfortunately, lift access is only available on the weekends.

To cap off our trip, we’re going to visit Belleayre Mountain. Although it’s known more for its great skiing, this is a great spot to bike and a wonderful place to spend the night. There’s an inviting family atmosphere in the air around this mountain.

All trails here, including the Upper, Lower and Cross Country areas, can be used without charge. Note that the chairlift is not yet equipped to carry bikes, but hey, you can’t win ‘em all.

You can use the extra money saved from these free trails to spend a sweet night at the Belleayre Lodge and Cabins. These lodgings overlook the town of Pine Hill. Each cabin has a BBQ grill and fire pit.

Belleayre Mountain can be accessed in several ways. Here are a couple:

From Points North or South – NYS Thruway (I-87) to Exit 19 – Kingston, NY – then Rt. 28, 37 miles West to Highmount. Belleayre will be on your left at the top of the hill after passing the Village of Pine Hill (approximately 2.5 hrs from NYC and 1.5 hours from Albany).

From Points West or South – Rt. 17 to East Branch, then Rt. 30 to Rt. 28 East to Highmount.