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  1. #1
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    Catskill, NY Winter Riding?

    What is the riding like here in the winter? Considering relocating from SoCal (great weather, trails not so much).

    I lived in SW CT and it was possible to ride in the winter, but there were certainly weeks on end of snow, ice, or mud that kept us off the trails. I used to ride at night in freezing temps, so I'm not afraid of the cold or dark. I do of course prefer daytime riding, even if it is snow covered trails in 20 degree temps.

    Is it any better or worse in the Catskill area (Catskill, Cairo, Windham, etc)? Frozen ground? Ice covered? Thick sloppy mud?

    How often are you able to ride and where?

    Maybe you spend November to March doing all that deferred maintenance on your bike. Glancing longingly outside while watching Youtube videos of lucky guys like me in SoCal?
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  2. #2
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    Weather is a little colder and snowier than CT. You may want to get a fatbike for winter riding. There are some awesome trails for normal riding weather such as Elm Ridge, Windham Bike Park, Plattekill Bike Park, Round Top, and other Hudson Valley destinations arent too far.

  3. #3
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    Get a fatbike, you won't regret it. It opened up my riding yearlong, no more waiting until the ground dried in spring, no more cabin fever😉
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  4. #4
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    We went the the NAHBS in Hartford yesterday and met this company. I dont have a fatbike yet but after seeing this and watching the videos it looks like he have really come up with a snow solution for riding! https://www.fatbikeskis.com/

  5. #5
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    How often are the trails covered in snow? I expect mud would be the more common problem and are fat bikes ok for muddy trails?
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  6. #6
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    Trails are hit or miss, snow or mud all winter, saturday they were covered and today its mud. Fat bikes work in the mud but you dont want to be out there tearing up the trails when its too soft. The fat bike ski worked on cross country or downhill trails so it looked like an awesome addition to get more use from a fatbike.

  7. #7
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    Every year is different but I would guess that over 60% of the time, there is snow on the trails or the trails are wet and muddy. If you are looking to spend an hour or so at a time, a fat bike can get you through on some of the more traveled snow covered trails. If you are looking for 3 -6 hour training rides, you will have to ride on the roads. Having said that, many of the roads around the Catskills see little road traffic and they are great training grounds. I've been riding my mountain bike on the roads.

  8. #8
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    I don't think mud is a huge issue. It's muddy at the end of winter/early spring but it's not the entire winter. Snow the last few years has been hit or miss. I bought a fat bike the 2nd half of winter last year and rode it every weekend until about April. One of the best ways to enjoy the fat bike is to ride on the groomed snowmobile trails. Just in my area there is well over 100 miles of groomed/maintained trails. The conditions are incredible on a fat bike.

    When there isn't a lot of snow for those trails to be groomed, there's sometimes enough snow to use the fat bike on the barely traveled dirt roads. If there's no snow on those roads, then it's just a gravel grinder ride on my hard tail. There are a ton of dirt roads in the general area you're talking about, that getting outside to ride shouldn't be an issue in any conditions, other than if it's icy. Some people get around this by getting studded tires.

    Moral of the story, you can easily ride almost year round if you're interested in a little more variety than just singetrack. Some of the dirt roads are pretty gnarly, so it's not mountain biking but it's not just riding your road bike on hard dirt. It's a little more interesting IMO.
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  9. #9
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    Good to know. I had not thought about the snow mobile trails. Where my family is there are plenty of those.

    That has me wondering, are there many off the grid trails? MTB Project is pretty thorough for this area (SoCal and LA specifically). However I imagine in that area there may be many trails not yet logged on there. I suspect Strava may have some more listed.

    For better and worse there are MANY who ride out here and use technology...too many most weekends.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    Good to know. I had not thought about the snow mobile trails. Where my family is there are plenty of those.

    That has me wondering, are there many off the grid trails? MTB Project is pretty thorough for this area (SoCal and LA specifically). However I imagine in that area there may be many trails not yet logged on there. I suspect Strava may have some more listed.

    For better and worse there are MANY who ride out here and use technology...too many most weekends.
    I live near the area but not close enough that I ride with most of the locals. I think there are some off the grid trails but I don't think there are a ton BUT I could be completely wrong. I think it'll depend on where you end up living exactly too. Elm Ridge is probably the busiest place to ride on the weekends but it's probably nothing compared to the traffic you find on your trails. It's still possible to go out and have a good day of riding on the weekend. So I don't think you'll find the need to ride off the grid stuff to avoid crowds. There is a decent size biking community but it's still going to pale in size to where you are. Anywhere else you go to ride, even on a weekend you still might not see anybody riding when you're out.

    Depending on how much driving you are used to, there are a lot of great/amazing trails in that general. Just in the area you described are the Round Top trails which are great and I haven't ridden a majority of the trails there. Elm Ridge in Windham is an incredible system and I think one of the best places to ride in all of the Northeast.

    There is also a trail system right near Hunter that I believe is being partially designed by the builders of Elm Ridge - someone else can confirm that but that is supposed to be very good too. Belleayre ski resort has good trails to ride once in awhile. There are quite a few to name but I don't think you'll not be able to find places to ride.

    Catskills is a big area though so if you live around Windham/Cairo you'll be pretty close to at least two great trail systems and there is a lot of fat biking done at both places, especially Round Top.

    The dirt roads, there are endless miles of dirt road riding in that area too. Hundreds of miles literally.

    Feel free to reach out if you do end up moving and I'd be happy to show you around Elm Ridge at least.
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  11. #11
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    Scanning YouTube and MTB Project there do look to be a lot of nice trails. Most seem to be pretty pedally and not too technical, are there any expert/challenging trails apart from the lift access stuff?

    As much as I don't love SoCal trails, there is not shortage of challenges. Be it a grind up 5,000' of vertical to the top of Mt. Wilson or the 7,000' downhill options. Of course most of the "technical" challenges are loose sandy trails, ruts, and the oh so common "exposure" (rock wall to the left, 200+ foot drop to your right).

    In CT I rode Trumbull all the time (for those familiar). That was and is my ideal. Some nice easy stuff or some really challenging stuff. But no lung busting climbs or deathtraps like here.

    I'll be out there in late April. I hope to check out the trails. Looking into bike rentals...or maybe taking a bike with me. Not sure the Mrs will go for that.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    Scanning YouTube and MTB Project there do look to be a lot of nice trails. Most seem to be pretty pedally and not too technical, are there any expert/challenging trails apart from the lift access stuff?

    As much as I don't love SoCal trails, there is not shortage of challenges. Be it a grind up 5,000' of vertical to the top of Mt. Wilson or the 7,000' downhill options. Of course most of the "technical" challenges are loose sandy trails, ruts, and the oh so common "exposure" (rock wall to the left, 200+ foot drop to your right).

    In CT I rode Trumbull all the time (for those familiar). That was and is my ideal. Some nice easy stuff or some really challenging stuff. But no lung busting climbs or deathtraps like here.

    I'll be out there in late April. I hope to check out the trails. Looking into bike rentals...or maybe taking a bike with me. Not sure the Mrs will go for that.
    I don't say this at all to sound like an ass.... it's the Northeast and the catskills have some pretty rugged areas. There is not a lot of "smooth" riding, everything has rocks and roots. Some trails more than others. I don't know what would be considered the right amount of technical for you but there are definitely a lot of options at least within a weekend drive from where you might be looking.

    Blue mountain down in Peekskill comes to mind as some technical riding. But Round top definitely has some technical sections, they ran an enduro there last year or the year before and many of the guys responsible for the trail system are more into technical riding. Elm ridge also has some technical riding, again, I don't know how technical you're looking for but some of it is smooth and fast and there's a whole section on one side of the mountain that is a fairly technical descent without having to worry about dying. Although my buddy broke his neck there 2 years ago.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    I don't say this at all to sound like an ass.... it's the Northeast and the catskills have some pretty rugged areas.
    No worries, I totally understand. I am "That guy" here in SoCal. I keep saying how the trails back in the North East are so much better than here in SoCal. I recently met a guy from Boston at a work day. It was February and we were all baking in the sun. We commented how it sure is nice to have year round riding weather, but do miss the quality trails.

    Here the trails are such a mix of hard pack, loose, loose over hard, ruts, rocks, exposure, and other accidents waiting to happen they are very difficult..not necessarily good. So its more like "poor conditions" technical. My friend went off the side of the trail (landed in a bush so he is fine) when a rock just gave way under the dry loose edge to the trail. That trail would not be very challenging if it had a solid trail bed and no cliffs.

    For example, this one. Nice fast hardback trail one day...the next week the outside of a turn is a sand filled wheel eating hole:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWEHQC0Frow

    This is one of the most popular and high rated trails in LA. It is my favorite and fortunately 10 minutes away. It is like some of the NE stuff, particularly after the 11 minute mark:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kL02dLQzlMY

    If I could find trails like that in that area in NY, I'd be very happy. Thats a nice balance of technical challenge and "get home safe".

    The few videos I could find of the area there in NY showed pretty even terrain along trails marked as green or blue on the trail maps. It is good to hear the builders like technical stuff and are not like some who pull every rock out of the ground. Blue Mountain in Peekskill definitely looks like a great spot.

    My wife on the other hand is thrilled the riding doesn't require miles of climbing or involve ruts and cliffs. So even if all the trails were blue/green I would adjust and enjoy.

  14. #14
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    I don't think you'll be disappointed in the trails around here, especially after watching your video. The trails that would potentially be closest to you would be a mix of what you described above, "balance of technical challenge and get home safe". Elm ridge has some easier trails at the bottom but they aren't completely void of rocks and roots. I would say most of the trails have enough technical features without worrying about a hospital visit. Same thing is true with Round top and pretty much every trail system in the Catskill area.
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  15. #15
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    Feel free to reach out around April when you're up if you're interested in checking out Beebe Hill state forest, a rapidly expanding trail network in Columbia Co. right across the Hudson river from Elm Ridge. Located in Capital District/Hudson Valley/Berkshire area. Over 20+ miles of singletrack, good mix of tech and flow. I'm biased as these are my home trails, but I'd put them right up there with Elm Ridge in quality. Good crew of builders/riders out here adding more mileage every year.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    I don't think you'll be disappointed in the trails around here, especially after watching your video.
    Have you gone to any of the parks? THe prices are reasonable ($250) at least compared to here in SoCal ($600). I've been to a park once, Plattekill 20 years ago, so its not really my thing. However given the proximity and cost its an interesting option.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trailrider92 View Post
    Feel free to reach out around April when you're up if you're interested in checking out Beebe Hill state forest, a rapidly expanding trail network in Columbia Co. right across the Hudson river from Elm Ridge. Located in Capital District/Hudson Valley/Berkshire area. Over 20+ miles of singletrack, good mix of tech and flow. I'm biased as these are my home trails, but I'd put them right up there with Elm Ridge in quality. Good crew of builders/riders out here adding more mileage every year.
    THanks, that would be nice however I'll be bikeless. As much as I'd like to take my bike thats just not feasible with a 2 year old and all the stuff. I thought about rentals, but the car I'll have is a compact sedan with no bike rack. I may just go check them out on foot. Thats what I plan to do with Elm Ridge and some others.
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  18. #18
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    I just got back to Sacramento after a week of riding in the Albany/Saratoga area. My wife and I are from different parts of Upstate NY and came out here for job opportunities in 2013.

    Now we both want to make it back. Be damned to winter. Get a fatbike. Or snowshoes. Or cross-country skis. Or downhill skis. Or AT skis. Or snowboard. Orall if the above.

    You're likely to make more money living in a big SoCal city than in upstate NY. But your money goes way farther Upstate and there is so much more to do outside without having to plan your day or weekend around it. My friends just built their 2600 sq ft (plus full basement) dream home on 3 acres Upstate for the price of a run-down 1200 square foot dump in Sacramento with no yard.

    In 6 days we rode trails in 5 different towns, all less than a 40 minute drive from his house. Each if these locations you can hit for a quick hour-ish ride, or all-day epic grinder. Variety from machine-built, mach-chicken fast flowy stuff to super tech, old-school trails that had us grunting and grinding every step of the way.

    Gorgeous weather all week. We saw 1 group of guys each on 2 separate rides. Other than that we had trails to ourselves. Beat that.

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sambs827 View Post
    You're likely to make more money living in a big SoCal city than in upstate NY. But your money goes way farther Upstate and there is so much more to do outside without having to plan your day or weekend around it. My friends just built their 2600 sq ft (plus full basement) dream home on 3 acres Upstate for the price of a run-down 1200 square foot dump in Sacramento with no yard.
    Our income would be the same as my job would not change. The cost off living is not as low as I expected. Utilities are all higher. In part because you need to heat your home so much. Electricity is also more expensive where we are looking to go. Its crazy that our electric bill in SoCal is much less than upstate NY. And then there are the taxes. Ouch! $5,000 a year and up for a $200,000 house.

    Housing costs are of course much lower. Thats the real advantage is if we decide to buy. There is no way we can buy here. We can buy a nice house there for the cost of rent here (and that includes the absurd NY Taxes).

    Quote Originally Posted by sambs827
    In 6 days we rode trails in 5 different towns, all less than a 40 minute drive from his house. Each if these locations you can hit for a quick hour-ish ride, or all-day epic grinder. Variety from machine-built, mach-chicken fast flowy stuff to super tech, old-school trails that had us grunting and grinding every step of the way.

    Gorgeous weather all week. We saw 1 group of guys each on 2 separate rides. Other than that we had trails to ourselves. Beat that.
    That is one of the huge appeals. Here I have to drive 15 or more miles to get to anything else. The right time of day its a 20-30 minute drive. The time of day I would usually drive it, 45-60 easily. The better rides are an hour or more away. Those can easily be 2 hours in gridlock. And then you get to share the trails with dozens or hundreds of others. One popular trail had a USFS ranger counting users. In 4 hours I think he said he had about 300.

    We did a hike when we were back there. The drive was a pleasant 30 minute drive through the country. We saw maybe 5 other users (it was the first nice day in nearly a month so the trails were "busy"). There were miles of other trails in every direction.

    We are definitely close to making the decision.

  20. #20
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    Well, it is happening. We will be there in October. How has summer riding been? My family says it’s rained more often than usual. Summer here has been HOT. I know many who simply don’t ride. My main riding buddy has his bike in pieces for the “off season” overhaul.

    I am hoping to get out on the trails mid October. Thanks for the suggestions on what to ride. Are there any groups I should look into for information or group rides?
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  21. #21
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    How you move go? Got off easy so far with the winter weather.have you been riding? I also am in catskill.

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by msrfrog View Post
    How you move go? Got off easy so far with the winter weather.have you been riding? I also am in catskill.
    The move went well. We got here in October and are settled in (the bike workshop in the basement is complete!). It was so rainy in Oct/Nov I didn't get to ride much. I rode Elm Ridge twice. Fun stuff, and great spot for me to ride with the Mrs. Round Top is...interesting. So much potential, but I have not found the right trails or its just not my style. There are a few sections that are fun, but seems like they built around most potential features (rock rollers, technical rock gardens, drops, etc) to keep the trails safer. I'm not looking for crazy stuff, but so far have not found anything that is more than a blue square (the ratings on Trail Forks are high IMO). North Bethlemen is a blast. Easy if you want easy, but also has enough to keep advanced riders smiling and testing themselves. Best part is how fast it dries out.

    I want to get up to Danies Road and Gurnery soon. Anything else I should try?
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    The move went well. We got here in October and are settled in (the bike workshop in the basement is complete!). It was so rainy in Oct/Nov I didn't get to ride much. I rode Elm Ridge twice. Fun stuff, and great spot for me to ride with the Mrs. Round Top is...interesting. So much potential, but I have not found the right trails or its just not my style. There are a few sections that are fun, but seems like they built around most potential features (rock rollers, technical rock gardens, drops, etc) to keep the trails safer. I'm not looking for crazy stuff, but so far have not found anything that is more than a blue square (the ratings on Trail Forks are high IMO). North Bethlemen is a blast. Easy if you want easy, but also has enough to keep advanced riders smiling and testing themselves. Best part is how fast it dries out.

    I want to get up to Danies Road and Gurnery soon. Anything else I should try?
    Jockey hill near Kingston is nice . Close to my job . And round top is close to my home. I believe round top trail are based around xc races. I did the round top ralley last summer for my first race.
    I suspect you won't find any super long flowy deccents like the west coast.
    You could try the trail up to the fire tower on overlook mountain near Woodstock.
    Ferncliff across the river is nice and lipman park sounds great but never had a chance to go . I'm married with 3 kids so riding time is sparse.lol although if I'm not hung over I'll go to round top tomorrow.

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  24. #24
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    Right next door to Jockey Hill is Onteora Lake. Lots of great techy Catskill singletrack there too. And if you're sneaky enough there is access to the quarry flats which are a trials dream come true.

    I haven't been yet, but supposedly Bike Park Tannersville is the cats pajamas. Flowy west coast type riding--from what I've heard.

    Msrfrog, where do you live? I'm in Stone Ridge and work in Woodstock. I've been so lazy this winter with riding, but built a gravel grinder and got all the PM done on my other bikes for the spring. The treadmill and rollers are getting tiresome...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by herfce View Post
    Right next door to Jockey Hill is Onteora Lake. Lots of great techy Catskill singletrack there too. And if you're sneaky enough there is access to the quarry flats which are a trials dream come true.

    I haven't been yet, but supposedly Bike Park Tannersville is the cats pajamas. Flowy west coast type riding--from what I've heard.

    Msrfrog, where do you live? I'm in Stone Ridge and work in Woodstock. I've been so lazy this winter with riding, but built a gravel grinder and got all the PM done on my other bikes for the spring. The treadmill and rollers are getting tiresome...
    I'm in Catskill near pallenville. I used to live in stone ridge also before buying my house .

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