I stared at that tall mass of green straight ahead. This must be the nine-mile climb our route planner had flagged.
We were on the Maybrook Trail, the new connector between Hopewell Junction, where the Dutchess Rail Trail ends, and Brewster, the northern end of a trail that ends in New York City’s Van Cortlandt Park. I’m convinced it was only built because of the Empire State Trail project. Love the shade on a climb and the surprise of coming across a lake.
It’s a rail-with-trail project, presumably because Metro North wants to keep using it … never mind that some sections of track are missing near Brewster.
But a train can’t go up steep inclines, so rail-trails generally mean gentle climbs. That was the case here, with 2% grades, maybe a short burst of 3%, over 8 or 9 miles. That I could handle as part of another hot day and close to 70 miles in the saddle.
The photo above is around the highest point — my Garmin said 726 feet above sea level — and then it was downhill to Brewster. Then some more (shorter!) climbs before it was back to downhill toward New York City. I needed that today!
Fun fact: The Appalachian Trail crosses the Maybrook Trail (NY milepost 22.5 on the AT).
Another site you’ll see from the trail when you reach Stormville: a golf course with an XXXL American flag. That’s the tipoff that it’s a Trump golf course.
Today made me even more appreciative of that public water spigot in Kinderhook on day 1. The Maybrook Trail has almost no amenities and no obvious places to get off the trail to buy water or food. (Business opportunity for someone?) Even the North and South County trails from Brewster into Westchester County have little beyond parking lots. Sure, some have a bike repair station, including an air pump, but I didn’t see port-a-potties or water options.
Sometimes you see enough of a town to spot amenities, but there’s no special signage for cyclists. We stopped at the Mahopac library right off the trail to refill our water bottles (CVS is visible across the street at the traffic light; the library is across the street too, to your left if you’re southbound, but you may not be able to see the signage).
Keep going south and at times you feel like the trail is sandwiched between highways. Who drives along the Saw Mill River Parkway and knows a trail is just on the other side of a thin strip of trees? Or on the Taconic State Parkway? To be honest, it’s amazing that it exists at all given the demand for roadways and the fights over every scrap of land in New York City. The section of Elmsford that we’ve seen, unfortunately, seems to be decidedly bike and pedestrian-unfriendly. How about some more sidewalks? And safe access to the hotels for those not traveling by car?
We opted to stay at the La Quinta in Elmsford because it is close and walkable of sorts to Captain Lawrence Brewing, where we were meeting friends. (There are more options on the road leading to the new Tappan Zee Bridge, plus there is a Comfort Inn a bit further north.) For those who want a shorter day, Brewster has hotels too, but I have no sense of how easy they are to reach by bike.
That you can go from New Paltz to here — and then onto New York City — almost exclusively on trails is just stunning. May other states be inspired to do something similar.
Now there’s just one short day to go for us. Read about it here.