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Places We Ride: 5 Fall Rides for Fall Color

By Celestia Howe

After getting scorched on the road in August, I look forward to the brisk weather riding amid the changing colors. Secretly, I'm a leaf peeper and I'm guessing many other cyclists and mountain bikers are too. In the fall, unless you are spiking your apple cider, there are not many things better than autumn rides surrounded by golden and red leaves. Here are 5 fall rides to satisfy your secret leaf peeping passion.

ROAD: RIVER ROAD, NY

River Road Cycling NYCPhoto Credit: NYC Bike Maps

A classic New York City ride that gets city-dwellers out of the city into tree-lined roads with sparse traffic. The proper name is Henry Hudson Drive but the NYC locals call it River Road. Ride along Hudson's water edge, along the Palisade cliffs, and get your heart-pumping on the steep ascents that test your lung power. 

Distance: 40.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 
2,062 feet
Start/End: 
Manhattan
Strava Map
Bikes Perfect For This Ride

MTN/GRAVEL/ROAD MIX:OLEMA - BOLINAS RIDGE, CA 

fall road ridesPhoto Credit: MTBR Forums


Mostly dirt and fire road with some choppy rocky sections along Bolinas Ridge trail. This ride will take you through high-plateau grassland vistas, dense redwood forests, steep short climbs, and views of the ocean. At the end, you'll ride on the road and a bike path - so just be mentally prepared for this! 

Distance: 43.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,638 feet
Start/End: Fairfax, CA (Bay Area)
MTB Project Map
Bikes Perfect For This Ride

MTB: PALOS TOUR

Palos Tour MTN BikePhoto Credit: MTB Project

With near fifty miles of trail outside of Chicago, this is the motherload of trails to keep you humming for a whole day. This loop includes wooded singletrack, water crossings, humps and bumps, as well as techy downhill. It's intermediate, but even if you're an advanced rider, you'll still enjoy the flow.

Distance: 15.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 920 feet
Start/End: Palos Park (near Chicago)
MTB Project Map
Bikes Perfect For This Ride

Road: Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, VA 

Skyline Drie, Shenandoah
Photo Credit: National Park Service


Leaf peeper century! This is a 100+ mile scenic road that climbs 10,000 feet through the Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains. If you've got mountain goat legs, then this is doable in one day, for all others, it's a two-day adventure. There are plenty of deer and bears, so be on the look-out for big animals especially on the steep descents.

Distance: 106.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 10,152 feet
Start: North Entrance of Shenandoah National Park, Shenandoah, VA
End: South Entrance of Shenandoah National Park
Strava Map
Bikes Perfect For This Ride

MTB: Monarch Crest, Salida, CO

Monarch Crest MTB
Photo Credit: MTB Project

Shuttle up to the top of Monarch Crest then climb on double-track to the above-treeline single track. Unless you have lungs of steel, you'll need to pace yourself on the tight uphill grind. You'll be riding along the continental divide and see epic views of year-round snow-covered peaks. Take a carbo-load break at the top of Monarch Crest before you descend through tight, rutted trails interspersed with short climbs - and a steep climb up a logging road. You'll cross creeks, bridges and rock gardens and at the lower elevation, thick aspen groves throughout this IMBA epic ride.

Distance: 36.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,035 feet
Start: Monarch Pass
End: Poncha Springs
MTB Project Map
Bikes Perfect For This Ride