Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

Loop around Phoenicia-Hunter-Shandaken, wide shoulders and fast long descents

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 12, 2007

The title says it all, I have been hiking and driving around this area for ages. I have stayed in Tannersville for shabbos many a time, and I have been skiing Hunter Mountain since I was a wee little one, finally I got a chance to see the area in all its glory, late in the day as the sun was making the shadows long and at 15 miles per hour.

I started out at the intersection of Routes 23A and 214. I road 214 south for 12 miles until Pheonecia. This road is simply amazing to ride this way. You ride flat for a couple miles and then hit two steep relatively quick climbs. Then you go downhill for about 7 or 8 miles. A steady coasting downhill or a pounding in the big ring nastiness, depending on what you choose. You pass between to mountain ranges and in many places the road is hugged by steep lush hillsides on either sides. A narrow roaring creek is off to
oneside and at one point by the Devils Tombstone state parking area and campground there is a beautiful lake. The shoulder isnt too great with some cracks and you should watch out for the bridge joints if you ride very skinny tires. The road is very lightly traveled in the weekdays so it wasn not much of an issue.

Then at the end of Route 214 I rode on 28 west until Shandaken. A decent ride, though the shoulder in many places is unrideable and riding on the road sucks when there is traffic and 28 is one of the heaviest traveled roads in the Catskills. Again you are offered great views of the high peaks areas of the Catskills, but the stores, houses and heavy traffic ruin it somewhat.

I took a right onto route 42 and went north. Route 42 is one of my favorite roads in the Catskills. It actually begins in the Monticello area way south of where I was. It ends and then starts up again here for only 10 miles or so. The shoulder is narrow but very smooth. The road goes up over the mountains like so. You ride up a very long hill, I rode up the hill between 10 and 13 mph, a steady long hill with very few houses and some nice creeks and small waterfalls. Near the top to the left of me was a pretty high waterfall and when you go down towards route 23A the fun starts.

Route 42 shoots down out of the mountain gorge ands enters rolling farmland surrounded by mountains. It is simply amazing to be in such random beauty when you spent a long uphill surrounded by thick forested hillsides and cliffs. The farmland is soft and inviting with its golden high grass and old slanted farmhouses. Some old cars sit in the fields making it all seem abandoned, though I saw some folks mowing their yards and waving to me as I rushed by at 35 mph. The downhill is steep and of decent length. I flirted with 50 mph until I freaked and hit the brakes.

A large river appears within all the farmland and it is strewn with rocks with a slivery piece of water flowing in its side, old trees and drift wood scattered its sides. The sun was becoming orange signaling the end of the day, the sky was very blue and extremely bright. Off to the east I could see a dark mass starting to form. I took a right on route 23A and continued est to my car.

Route 23A prior to Hunter is also the same rolling farmland creeping up to the large mountains in the valley. You ride along the lazy creek next to the road and see an occasional fisherman casting away in its clear brown waters. I rode through Hunter and saw the black mass of mean looking clouds moving fast towards me. I came to route 42 took a right and proceeded to my car parked on the grass by the shoulder.

I could hear thunder off to the east and looked up to see a huge rainbow within the masses of clouds. To the west the sun was a brilliant pink and orange orb with raws glancing off the fast approaching storm. I davened Mincha and thanked Hashem for providing me with such a great 40 mile ride and letting me get back before the onslaught of the storm. As I drove home, huge droplets of rain pummled my car and smeared the bug graveyard on my windshield.


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