Cycling Glade Hill -- a brutal New York State bike climb!
Ride 1.9 miles gaining 1,261’ at 12.4% averager grade.
This is the steepest mile in New York State at 13.5%.
“One of the steepest hills in the Northeast as well as the entire United States, Glade Hill Road is a severe ascent located within the scenic Catskills Mountains. A moderate start soon gets very steep as you encounter an S bend with severe grade. On top, the torture continues as you gain altitude on the isolated road. A field and farmhouse soon appear. The double digit grade eventually eases just before the roadway crosses quite closely between 2 farm buildings. Severe pedaling quickly returns however but then eases slightly as the road now heads along a ridge with a drop off (and views) to the left. You then head into the woods for a time as slightly more challenging pedaling returns.
Continuing uphill as the trees thin a bit, you quickly encounter the maximum grade on the hill through a semi right hand turn. As you approach a shelf the grade eases but remains double digit. It then gradually increases as the road straightens up the hill. Towards the very top the slope finally eases and the climb ends at its junction with Moore Hill Road. Needless to say, Glade Hill Road is a quick and challenging descent (it may be better to descend Moore Hill Road instead).” (This quote is provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) in the Northeast, pg. 138.)
OH MY!!!!! 12.3% average grade -- this is a B R U T E!!! This is the second highest ranked hill climb in New York and has the steepest grade of any ascent over one mile in length (NYCC Steep Hill web page). This is one of the five New York top climbs in the Catskill Mountains, the primary climbing zone in New York State.
Climb begins in a very rural farming and ranching section of the Catskills.
Thanks much to PJAMM contributor Ties Arts of Bussum, Netherlands for his contributions to this page. Ties writes:
We did Glade Hill as the final climb of the day, after already climbing six steep climbs in the Catskills mountains (total tour of that day 129km/80.2 mi 2900hm). That didn’t make it easier. 12.4% for 3km/1.9 mi is by design a tough job to be done. From the first hairpin it was tough. I had to go to my lowest gear (34x32) and use the postman technique to find a good rhythm climbing up Glade Hill. All that said, it is a beauty of a climb with lot of open sections going up. Most steep climbs in the Catskills are 90% in the woods, but this one is not, which makes it more special. Significant views going up. But again it was hard work championing this wall.
Views along the climb.
Here are some more great ride reports for this climb:
From PJAMM contributor and our New York Connection, Matthew Staller:
Glade Mountain is the second most difficult climb in New York, and the hardest in the Catskills. This challenging ascent travels on frighteningly difficult grades up hillsides so steep that the nearby city of New York condemned large portions of the area to be a part of its massive water supply system.
There are no views to speak of (well, there's one, but you'll not want to stop to enjoy it); and it can be impossible to descend (use adjacent Moore Hill Road for that).
This is a remarkable little climb. For starters (see Google Streetview map, below) it looks like nothing at the beginning; it never presents a view of itself for very long either. It begins off the side of another climb (Sugarloaf Road) so it's hard to take seriously as a stand-alone. Ha! Take it seriously or pay the price!!
I have ridden it twice, most recently earlier this week (September 1, 2015). The first time, I went with support, so I didn't have to descend. This time, I went alone; the descent is challenging =- I used Moore Hill instead of the treacherous Glade Hill descent and even that is daunting. Moore Hill is less steep and a bit straighter than Glade Hill. Glade has little if any vehicle traffic as over its 1.9 miles it services only three residences -- your own private torture chamber!!
“Tough climb with some pretty scenery along the way, and interesting variety of steepness and curves. About 1250 vertical feet in 1.9 miles for an average steepness grade around 12.5% -- but there are sustained sections which are steeper. If stop in the middle, can look back to a big view to the southeast. The steepest climb on a paved road over 700 vertical feet that I know of so far in the Hudson Valley south of Albany.
The climb is in Sullivan county, north from the west end of the Rondout Reservoir near Grahamsville. (Could use the nearby Sugar Loaf climb as a warmup for Glade Hill -- also close by are Moore Hill + Denman Mt)[ see Map ]
[not checked by us since 2007]
Directions: From Rt 209 near Ellenville, take Rt 55 going northwest, then turn Right on Rt 55A and go northwest along the north side of the Rondout Reservoir. Turn Right to go northeast on Peekamoose Rd (Ulster county Rt 42), then soon turn left to go north on Sugar Loaf Rd. Soon turn left onto Glade Hill Rd and climb that up to Moore Hill Rd (which has a big climb of its own). (on some older maps it might be called "Furman Rd").
Warning: all roads down from the top of this climb are very steep.”
We add this farm in our summary because it is a beautiful working ranch and farm straight out of centuries past. A testament to the seriousness of its owners is that you cannot find much about it on the internet. The sign says it has been family owned since 1820!! I stopped and took photos at the farm, but did not get the impression that this is a public area -- one rancher was loading hay and did stop to put his dog in the truck as I passed, but clearly not interested in visiting -- he was polite, yet very serious.