Bike Trails You Need to Try in the NYC Area

Bikers in NYC

New Yorkers are biking more often, both for exercise and for transportation. But something you want a route that differs from the Citibike path to your office.

Luckily, the New York City area has a wide variety of bike trails perfect for cycling, a workout that’s both vigorous and stress-relieving. Whether you’re experienced and ready for a challenge, or you’re testing out your pedals for the first time, the city offers something for everyone. Strap on your helmet and check out these amazing NYC bike trails and pathways.

Coney Island – Ocean Parkway Bike Path

Coney Island is a great active destination for tourists and locals alike. And the Ocean Parkway Bike Path, running from Prospect Park to Coney Island, is the way to see it in style. Created by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux – the same dynamic duo responsible for the design of Central Park – the Ocean Parkway Bike Path was the first bike path in the country.

This bike path is only 5.5 miles from beginning to end, and it’s probably not the place for intense training. But it does make the perfect ride for families and casual biking. After you park and lock up your Schwinn, pick up a root beer and a hot dog (Nathan’s, of course), and enjoy the sandy beaches and Skee-Ball of Coney Island.

Cathedral Pines County Park, Middle Island

Long Island cyclists should head straight to Cathedral Pines for their two-wheel fix.  The Cathedral Pines County Park offers 320 acres of hiking, camping, picnicking, and – you guessed it, mountain biking. The trail is a 7-mile loop that goes through a beautiful and heavily forested area and conveniently starts in the main parking lot

While beginners can enjoy the easy pace of the loop, there are also some tougher stretches for those looking for a real workout.

The Bronx River Path

The Bronx River Path runs adjacent to the beautiful Bronx River Parkway. It begins at central Westchester and runs 13.2 miles, ending at the town of Valhalla. Constructions is projected to lengthen the trail to  a total of 23 miles, connecting Westchester and the Bronx.. At this time, though, much of it is split into sections, some of which are paved with concrete or asphalt, while others are made of dirt. You can either enjoy the entirety of the trail, or ride one of its sections – such as the loop around a small lake in Bronxville.

Highlights of this ride include the  Kensico Dam Plaza, a waterfall, the tall silos of the Concrete Plant Park, and the Greenburgh Nature Center (take a minute to stop and look at their exhibits).

There are many points of access along the trail, including the Kensico Dam Plaza and the North White Plains Metro-North Railroad Station.

Westchester – The North County Trailway Bike Trails

The North County Trailway is among several so-called “rails to trails” initiatives, taking unused train tracks and turning them into usable bike trails and walking paths. Stretching a total of 22.1 miles, this trail makes an excellent day trip.

At a few points on this path, you’ll need to cross roads, and on busy days, this trail can get busy with  foot traffic and bike traffic. Make sure you’re staying alert when passing pedestrians.

And try taking a break at Yorktown Heights – a village that includes boutiques, shops, and restaurants.

Like many longer trails, there are several points of entry for cyclists. Start here to find the location that works best for you.

Randall’s Island

Nestled between the boroughs, Randall’s Island is a hotspot for New Yorkers of all ages, including concerts, festivals, yoga lessons, tennis, and wild flower gardens. The island also boasts a total of  eight miles of bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

While you probably wouldn’t train for the Tour De France on Randall’s Island, it’s still a great place to get some exercise while experiencing nature.

Randall’s Island can be reached by car, foot, ferry, and, of course, bicycle, from anywhere in New York City. There are specific (non-car) scenic routes for cyclists who  want to take a lap around the island or try a green commuting option.

The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway

Looking to see the city in a whole new way? The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a path that goes around the island of Manhattan. Spanning 32 miles, this path could be a great adventure for a cyclist.

The greenway is  into  three main sections – the East, Harlem and Hudson River Greenways.  Bring a camera or phone – you’ll definitely be tempted to take some photos.

While there are a few hills throughout the ride, the majority of the trail is low intensity. The distance is what makes this trip challenging.

Since the island trail is a circle, you’re able to start where you finish. Keep in mind that this is Manhattan, and the Hudson River Greenway section is the most heavily trafficked bikeway in the country, so you may have to stop or slow down for other bikes and pedestrians.

Bike right

Wherever you choose to bike in the city,  bike smart.Start off any journey by strapping on a helmet, and be sure to pack plenty of water to fend off dehydration on trail.  If you’re biking in cold weather,  layer with performance, sweat-wicking fabrics, and wear gloves and a liner under your helmet. But don’t overdo it – you’ll warm up as you cycle, and an outfit that’s comfortably toasty at the onset of your trip might be uncomfortably sweaty after 15 minutes of riding.

If you’re new to the bike life, take things slow. You don’t need to go 50 miles for your first ride. T Take breaks, and give your body plenty of time to recover, whether that’s through stretching or a  post-biking trip sports massage.

Finally, it goes without saying that you should always be safety-conscious and alert in the New York City areas when biking. Avoid wearing earphones and watch out for cars and pedestrians. The NYC Department of Transportation has good advice for bikers.

Enjoy your cycling trip!

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