Saturday, August 18, 2012

Climbing through the Devil's Kitchen: Platte Clove

As I wrote in my last post, I decided to forgo D2R2 today to spend the weekend with my kids since my wife is out of town. One of the big events on deck was a birthday party my son was invited to in Woodstock, so I seized the opportunity (while he and his friends were stalking each other with Airsoft guns) to ride a quick 45-mile loop through the heart of the Catskills. In honor of my friends riding in D2R2, I decided to take in the diabolical "Devil's Kitchen" climb through Platte Clove to feel a little burn. It's been a few years since I've ridden Platte Clove and I was also interested to see if I was still able to make it to the top without walking [I am].

For those of you not familiar with the Catskills, Platte Clove is one of the most remote and hard to access sections for hiking, but there's a seasonal road cut into the side of the cliff that drops off over a thousand feet without much in the way of guardrail protection. The photo (above) that I snapped with my phone on the way up does not do the clove justice. The Devil's Kitchen climb was featured in the 1990 Tour de Trump stage race and a number of the pros reportedly had to walk several sections. The road itself climbs 1200 ft in just 1.4 miles and hits grades of up to 17%, so there's not much in the way of rest as your heart and lungs scream for mercy. 

Much of the road is mercifully shaded by trees, yet dynamic views are possible all throughout the climb. At the top, the road levels out a bit and more expansive views of the Catskill high peaks are available on a clear day like today. There is also a large Bruderhof community nestled into the side of the mountain and I greeted a plainly dressed family out for a stroll as I crested the top of the hill. The Bruderhof is a fascinating Christian utopian sect that fled Nazi persecution during the Second World War. Not only do they live in community, but they also share all wealth and do not believe in personal possessions. No custom road bikes in that garage.

After a short spin through a lovely high valley, I passed the Hunter Mountain ski area and enjoyed the ten mile descent into Phoenicia along Route 214. Once in Phoenicia, I checked the time and hammered all the way back to Woodstock, fearful that I might end up being "that dad" who picks his kid up 30 minutes after the party ends. Luckily, with a gentle wind at my back, I covered the distance in very good time and was even able to change into my street clothes before heading in for a slice of ice cream cake. Here's a link to the route. If you're ever in Woodstock with a bicycle and a few hours on your hands, you could do much worse than this.


  1. I love (and really hate) Platte Clove! Congrats on making it to the top and thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Beth. That dang climb really elicits that type of reaction. Cant' wait to get out into the Catskills this fall as the leaves begin to turn. Thanks for visiting the blog.