Biking New York City’s congested streets is thrilling. It can also be a schlep. When you’re ready for a break from the stop-and-go pace of city bicycles, here are three of the best trails for biking and hiking near New York City.
Cars are forbidden on Governors Island, making it a 172-acre slice of emissions-free heaven for cyclists and hikers alike. Offering breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, the island is home to 7 miles’ worth of trails suitable for riders of all experience levels. When you’re ready for a rest, investigate The Hills, a sloping manmade range that’s home to public art spaces and New York’s biggest slide.
Governors Island is only accessible via ferry. If you don’t feel like lugging your own bike along for the day, you can rent a ride at the famed Blazing Saddles bike shop, which is home to more than 500 rental bikes and a fleet of 60 surreys. Bringing the kids? Blazing Saddles also has scooters, balance bikes and pedal cars available to rent. While the popular shop does not offer women’s or mens bicycles for sale, it does sport an assortment of Blazing Saddles gear to commemorate your trip — or to replace that hat you lost on the ferry ride over. Governors Island is home to three Citi Bike stations as well.
South County Trailway
This 14.4-mile paved trail runs from Yonkers to Elmsford and offers a woodsy ride through Westchester County history. In addition to the scenic Saw Mill River, the South County Trailway passes two unique New York memorials before ending near Sleepy Hollow itself.
First is HF Redmond Jr. Park. Formerly Cook Field, this recreation spot was renamed in 1972 to honor Hugh Francis Redmond, a World War II paratrooper and CIA operative who gathered intelligence while undercover as an ice cream machine salesman in Shanghai. He was later captured and imprisoned for 20 years, ultimately dying under mysterious circumstances. This isn’t your average hiking attraction.
Second, consider a pit stop at the Great Hunger Memorial. Located on Woodlands Lake in V.E. Macy Park, this stunning, three-part installation by Irish sculptor Eamonn O’Doherty is a tribute to those who lost their lives or were forced to flee their homeland during the Irish potato famine.
If you’re more interested in getting your heart rate up than getting a history lesson, give Putnam Trailway a try. Covering 12 miles of the old New York Central railroad line, this tree-laden route winds around gorgeous lakes and through heavily wooded areas alike. While most of the trail features gentle slopes, the northern end also offers a handful of brief but steep inclines. Its diverse terrain makes it well-suited for enthusiastic hikers and New York’s best hybrid bikes.
Putnam Trailway is also part of the planned Empire State Trail. When completed, this statewide path will cover a whopping 750 continuous miles of hiking and biking trails.
New York is home to a diverse network of trails, each of which offers an inimitable outdoor experience and an exciting change of scenery. Put the grind on pause this weekend and go see for yourself.