Cycling

The fact that you can take your bike on the subway in New York, gives you an idea of the attitude to cycling in this State. There is also a Greenway for cyclists which allows you to bike off-road around most of Manhattan, an experience that is not to be missed. You can use the new Citibike rentals for this, although you have to dock them every half an hour which is not so practical if you are planning a big outing, so you can also rent a bike at 9th Street Cycles or Bike and Roll. Request a free cycling map of New York City to see all cycling paths here. Also worth noting is a new 23 mile Greenway which is revitalising the heart of The Bronx, created by the Bronx River Alliance and which also leads cyclists into the northern rural regions of the Bronx River Pathway in Westchester County.

Outside the city, cycling is a great way to explore the State’s hills and vales, but do be prepared for hills. A good road bike is recommended for the likes of somewhere like the Finger Lakes region where I cycled around quiet wooded roads, with plenty of hills to keep the route interesting, but also plenty of downs with the water’s edge a rewarding treat at the end of many of them. You can download a series of cycling trails here. Keuka Lake is a top ride, for example. At 44 miles it’s no Tour de France, but you will glide past superb lakeside views on one side and vineyards on the other. Cycling clubs such as the one in the Finger Lakes are always a great source of information at the grass roots, so check out the list of all cycling clubs in New York State.

The Adirondacks are no strangers to serious cyclists, and at its core, the village of Lake Placid, you will find serious triathlon territory. A great one stop shop for information on cycling in the Adirondacks is High Peaks Cyclery on Main Street, Lake Placid. Browse their maps and guidebooks in the chillout room beside their well-stocked shop or head straight to their Mountain Bike Center on Mount Van Hoevenberg where you can rent a bike and then hit over fifty miles of trails. These guys also run a series of events for cycling enthusiasts who want to up their skills in the hills. Another wonderful source of information on cycle trails in this region is Bike the Byways, such as details on the cycle around Lake George on Route 9. This is a classic ride for the autumn or Fall, when the splendour of the leaf change will drive you to keep going up those hills and around each new bend.


For more options on serious road touring by bike, check out the Department of Transportation’s on road signed cycle routes. They vary in length and scenery, from Route Nine, a 345 mile on road route heading due North out of New York City all the way to the Canadian border, to Route 25 which stretches along Long Island’s North Shore from top to toe for 67 miles.

There are plenty of off road cycle routes in New York State as well. A few of my favourites include the old carriage trails in Minnewaska State Park in the Hudson Valley. Mostly used as walking trails, they were designed to cater for late 19th century carriages, so they are also perfect for bikes. Many of the trails work their way around the two lakes of the Park, Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting, and you can stay at the Mohonk Mountain House which looks out over the Park if you want to drop from your saddle into your sack. Also in the Hudson Valley, and this time clinging closer to the river itself, is the Old Croton Aquaduct Trail, accessible by train from New York City by going to Dobbs Ferry, where you can hire a bike at Endless Trail Bikeworx. Leading you through small Hudson Valley towns, parkland at Lyndhurst Manor and then, eventually down to Croton Park Point, a wooded peninsula taking centre stage in the Hudson River. You can order lovely maps of the Trail on the Friends of the Old Croton Aquaduct website, including the section that comes into New York City. For more information on cycling here, see Cycling the Hudson Valley guidebook.

Cycling down the Erie Canalway is special. It was a feat of engineering when it was first built in 1825, and now this 365 miles of cycling freedom is a feat of tourism. It is special because as you pedal along, you watch nature claim back the land again, wild apples falling into the water, chicory and goldenrod growing all along the edge, shady trees thriving and people fishing, which would suggest even the wildlife is returning. I cycled a short section from Durhamville to Green Lakes State Park, renting a bike at the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, and where the greenest of green lakes awaited for the best cooling swim afterwards. You can also camp here. But every section of the Canalway has something to offer, as you can see in the superbly detailed Cycling The Erie Canal guidebook.

The Catskill Scenic Trail is one of many rail trails popping up all over New York State now, where cyclists and hikers can roam the rails of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad Road. For more information on the growing number of similar rail trails throughout New York, see the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

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