April 17, 2017
Spring is when all of our impatience builds up as we seem more ready than the weather is. This certainly applies to mountain biking, when the sun is shining and we are ready to hit the trails.
But what if the trails are still a bit too soggy? The trail stewards won't open them until riding on them will not harm them. What's an avid cyclist to do?
Here's four very early suggestions, perfect for when we are in a between-seasons stretch.
We do have one classic mountain biking trail that opens very early: the Bloomingdale Bog Trail.
This used to be a railroad access. So, unlike our other trails which are more delicate, this trail has been in use for a hundred years.
This 21-mile route (round trip) is popular for hiking and paddling, too. It parallels, then crosses, Twobridge Brook for some lovely scenic possibilities. This is in addition to the boglands and distant mountains seen from the trail. It ends in a pine forest.
Because we just had spring rains and snowmelt, this trail can be wet, so choose clothes and footwear with that in mind. Trail surface is sand and gravel, with some roots and rough patches. Walk the bike through any tricky patches; it will get better soon.
Keese Mills Road
This round trip is forty scenic miles there and back, and can include a hike up Azure Mountain for a full, fun day. The bike route for Keese Mills - Blue Mountain Road begins and ends with a paved road.
In between is a seasonal road which has a lot of gravel in some places, and can be muddy in others. Walk the bike around the puddles; rocks or very soft patches might be lurking there. Puddles are most prominent when first leaving the paved area of Keese Mills Road and traveling through the forest section. When we reach the meadows and rivers section, the route dries up more quickly.
There are forests, meadows, and rivers to enjoy along the way, following a road that is flat with gradual curves, which opens up new vistas frequently.
Azure Mountain has a restored fire tower and is known for its somewhat steep, but easily negotiated, trail. It is popular with children. The summit and tower are also known for their lovely views.
Pack a lunch! Or, reach the end and enjoy a fine meal at Deer Valley Trails before turning around.
Kushaqua-Mud Pond Road
This includes a seasonal road loop which circles Lake Kushaqua. The entire Kushaqua Loop Biking Trail route is forty-one gorgeous miles with lots of scenic interest. While much of it is a street bike route, the loop around the lake can be done by itself. This is a mostly graveled route which is flat, with varied surfaces.
If you love riding past many different lake views, this is the trek that will deliver them, mile after mile.
There are a number of bridges of varied construction, age, and accessibility for photographic opportunities, along with the abundant shoreline scenery and the constantly changing viewpoints as the forest advances and recedes along the road.
Part of the route is the highly scenic Route 60, known on its road signs as Jones Pond Road. This paved route is another fine scenic ride through the Debar Mountain Wild Forest, with water views of Jones Pond and Jones Pond outlet. At the Jones Pond Primitive Camping site there are hiking trails along Jones Pond itself, both forest and shoreline.
Jones Pond also has a boat launch, but we do not recommend portaging by bike.
While this route is entirely paved, it is a level rural road with plenty of scenery and a prize at the end: Everton Falls.
This set of rapids has an easy hike to(and around) it as a bonus for waterfall fans. A great ride for families with children who need easy pedaling and a bit of motivation.
This route has some meadow vistas and stream crossings until, 8.1 miles down the road, you hear the roaring falls. An opening appears, showing that you just rode past it.
There are plenty of great photo vantage points even along the road, but look for the nearby hiking path that lets you get even closer. Be careful of your footing on wet rocks, since this lively stretch of Deer River throws up a lot of spray even when it is not raining.
Continuing your ride along Route 14 (aka Red Tavern Road -- and yes, there is a red tavern along the way to the falls), will take you to charming little St. Regis Falls, a town with a famously photogenic dam and pumphouse. Explore more scenic, paved, riding along the St. Regis River. Dining is available there.