UPDATED JUL 14, 2020
You don’t have to dodge traffic to enjoy biking in NYC. From the urban trails to off-the-beaten path routes, these are all the best places for a ride.
The country’s first bike path has to be at the top of our list. This tried-and-true Brooklyn trail starts in Prospect Park and heads all the way south to Coney Island. But as you coast down tree-lined roads, be prepared to hit the breaks — there are a few traffic lights peppered along this route, and you’re destined to hit at least one red light. Once you’re ready to call it a day, hit the boardwalk for a celebratory ice cream cone. At less than five miles, it’s an easy trip and a fun way to see more of Brooklyn and the beach.
Governors Island is one of those New York treasures that’s easy to neglect if you don’t seek it out. The car-free island is ideal for bikers looking to escape the stop-and-go traffic of the city, and your next bike adventure is the perfect excuse to see what you’ve been missing. As you travel along the island’s seven-mile loop, you’ll get a fresh view of the Manhattan skyline and Lady Liberty. If you can't bring your own bike, know that Blazing Saddles offers free bike rentals from 10am to noon every weekday.
As one of New York’s most popular paths, the Greenway is best visited in the morning before tourists start to swarm. Spanning 11 miles, the well-traveled trail starts at the bottom of the island at Battery Park and stretches all the way up to Fort Tryon Park. Need a break? Take a breather with a walk around The Met Cloisters, a beautiful mansion filled with cool art and pretty gardens. Afterward, take a load off and grab the 1 train back to the city.
Randall’s Island is a true hidden gem, and Upper East Siders should absolutely take advantage of it. Over the last decade, the island went through a major renovation and now has two-, three-, and five-mile paved loops to bike on. Make a day of it and check out the Randall’s Island Golf Center, Urban Farm, or Tennis Center while you’re there. With more than 60 athletic fields on the island, there’s plenty of room to play.
If you’re looking to get out of the city, the Putnam Trailway is a fun day trip. About an hour-and-a-half drive from Midtown, it’s a bit of a hike, but trust us — the scenery makes up for it. We suggest starting in Brewster and riding south to Baldwin Place. But whichever direction you go, expect a few steep climbs that will get your heart rate pumping along the 12-mile stretch.
While the West Side has the Hudson River Greenway, East Siders can claim the East River Greenway. This specific half of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway runs from Battery Park to Harlem. But don’t get too comfortable because about halfway through the 10-mile path, this trail is going to pop you out onto the city streets. And with no immediate fix in the works, the 25-block detour is here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future). The upside? While you navigate this tricky trail, you’ll get to see cool sights like the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges and the United Nations Plaza.
We couldn’t talk about New York bike paths without mentioning good old Central Park. If you’ve lived in the city for any amount time, you know this one is all about timing. If you’re fortunate enough to avoid the horse carriages and tourists during your ride, the six-mile loop is downright serene. Head there before work or early on a weekend morning for a stress-free ride past the Reservoir, Sheep Meadow, and the Great Lawn.
Looking for a longer route? This path starts in Yonkers, right on the edge of Van Cortlandt Park, and goes north for 14.1 miles through the Hudson River Valley. It’s known for being a smooth, mostly flat trail, and has several exit points if you don’t want to do the whole thing. Fun fact: the trail ends right near Sleepy Hollow. Yep, that Sleepy Hollow.
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