Ride, ride, ride, ride, ride
November 18, 2011 10:14 PM   Subscribe

Long, long paved bike trails near NYC?

You'd think this would be easy, but it's surprisingly hard. I'm looking for a long to very long bike ride (20 to, say, 60+ miles) that is predominantly or entirely off-road.

However, I have a road bike and don't enjoy soft-surface or crushed-stone trails. So I want a paved ride. Is this possible within commuter rail distance of NYC (long train rides are fine), without too much road riding? Road riding is fun, but I want a long off-road ride.

(I'll drive if I have to, but reachable by train is preferable.)
posted by zvs to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Oh, and I am aware of the North County/Putnam Trailway.)
posted by zvs at 10:21 PM on November 18, 2011

Here's a link to all the bike trails by state that might help.
posted by any major dude at 10:48 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mr. Bedhead says that this might be a good option: Shore Road in Brooklyn. I know at least a good chunk of that is not on the road, rather adjacent to it; you'd be riding along a paved path with a road on the other side of a fence. It's really pretty along the water.
posted by bedhead at 10:53 PM on November 18, 2011

posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:09 AM on November 19, 2011

Here's a map of the North & South Country trailways, with their proximity to metro north train stations, which is the same trailway Johnny Gunn linked to, just in a different format.
posted by firei at 4:57 AM on November 19, 2011

Try the Delaware-Raritan Canal towpath ("the towpath") in NJ. It isn't paved, but it's flat, hard packed dirt without gravel. Rails to trails kind of thing. I think it would be fine.

You can access it via NJ transit. Take the NE Corridor from Penn Station to Princeton or Princeton Junction. Getting off at Princeton makes getting to the trail more pleasant, but you have to change trains at the Junction (you get on a tiny train called "the dinky").

Both stations are more-or-less on Alexander Rd. Make your way to it. From Princeton, turn left (south ish) and go about 1/2 mile. When you get to a bridge over a canal, get off the road and get on the trail. It's on your side of the canal. From Pton Junction, turn RIGHT on Alexander Rd (north ish) and go about 2 miles. When you hit the bridge, cross it before getting off to find the trail. I.e. from the Junction, it's on the other side of the canal.

You can probably get off the train at New Brunswick and access the trail, too, but I don't know how to do it.

On the trail, it's nicer to go north towards New Brunswick, but go explore! It's like 70 miles long; check out the trail map on the website.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:30 AM on November 19, 2011

P.S. from Princeton Junction, the ride on Alexander Road takes you across Rt 1, which probably isn't fun.

P.P.S. don't loiter making your connection to the Dinky at the Junction. You don't have a huge amount of time.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:32 AM on November 19, 2011

The D&R is lovely but I'd hesitate to recommend it for a road bike. Even assuming dry weather (and therefore no mud), there are parts of the stretch kestrel251 mentions where the surface has decayed and been replaced with large-chunk gravel that you'd really want at least hybrid tyres/wheels to go over. When I did the Princeton–New Brunswick run there were also quite long stretches--several miles--where some kind of tracked vehicle had been used in trail repair which had itself left densely-packed ridges a few inches apart along the trail, making for a jarring and unpleasant cycle. I was on a bike with robust tyres but small wheels; a road bike with slick and slender tyres would have as much trouble or more.

This isn't to 'disrecommend' the route itself--it is gorgeous, especially at this time of year. But I don't think it's what the OP is looking for, unless he borrows a different bike. (Incidentally, it is indeed very easy to get from New Brunswick rail station to the D&R trail. Even avoiding crossing or cycling alongside Memorial Parkway it's only a mile across the Rutgers campus.)
posted by lapsangsouchong at 9:45 AM on November 19, 2011

Response by poster: Shore Road -- yeah, I've done that. It's nice but it's very crowded near the VZ with people fishing (although maybe not in this weather).

D&R -- That looked like the most plausible choice, but my reading about trail conditions gave me pause Sounds like that was right... maybe when I'm on a beefier bike.

Sounds like I will settle for riding the Westchester trails. The train connections are certainly painless.
posted by zvs at 10:23 AM on November 19, 2011

Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn has a bike path the entire length of the sidewalk between the main and service roads, with all of the curbs flattened. (It's on the right side heading out toward Coney Island.) You cross lots of intersections, but you can usually time it so you move more or less continuously. Since it's a parkway, there are no truks. It's about 6 miles long, but there's plenty of places to go in Coney Island to bring the total to 20.

The route is subtly downhill on the ride out, which makes it easy, but coming back is a bit tiring.
posted by KRS at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2011

Best answer: The Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Dutchess and Columbia Counties is directly accessible from Metro North's Wassaic station and offers nicer scenery and cuter town stops than the Westchester/Putnam rail trail. A little over 21 miles R/T if you do the southern half only. You can add about 25 miles to the round trip by continuing north from Millerton along Rudd Pond Road for 8 miles to the 4-mile northern section which takes you to Copake Falls. Rudd Pond Road is fairly quiet with, IIRC, a low speed limit. There are a couple of state parks just off the longer option.

NYT writeup.

Cue sheet (Southern section from Amenia.)

posted by Opposite George at 4:54 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Check out the Henry Hudson Trail in Monmouth County NJ. It is 24 miles long and the North Jersey Coast Line to Aberdeen-Matawan Station will take you within a mile of both the northern and southern sections. The northern section ends near Sandy Hook which has its own bike path that will add another 6-7 miles to your ride.
posted by mordecaibrown at 7:00 PM on November 19, 2011

There are some great rides that you can take using the Westchester trail as a starting point. For example, when you cross the really neat old train trestle over the reservoir in Yorktown, instead of crossing 118 to continue on the trail, make a right, go about a 1/4 mile to the light at 100 and make a left. There is significant shoulder space on 100 from that point on northward and it runs along the other part of the reservoir. On weekends and most afternoons there are many riders going up that way. If you take 100 north, past Muscoot Farm which is a neat place to stop btw, just past the light at 35 you are rewarded with King Kone, a pleasant little ice cream and burger/sandwich place. After a chocolate cone, head west on 35 and re-engage the trail.

Also, when the weather is right (July and August), I have jumped off from the north side of that trestle (climb off the trail to the rock outcropping on the NW side) into a very refreshing cool water. The DEP will come warn you that there is no swimming, but the two or three jumps you get before they get there is well worth it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:55 AM on November 20, 2011

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