15 mile intermediate route
Starts in the West Village, Manhattan ends in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx.
A- Christoper Street (to start your ride)
B- The Little Red Lighthouse
C- The Hudson
D- Van Cortlandt Park
E- Old Putnam Trail entrance
This route is all about riding! I, like many a bike infrastructure nerd, was super excited to hear about the Old Putnam trail in Van Cortlandt Park re-opening with fresh pavement. The Old Putnam trail starts in Van Cortlandt Park, and is a great connector for biking upstate as it links directly to the South County Trail and then to the North County Trail, the majority of which are completely separated from cars. This trail is such a gem, and the re-paving has made it a super user-friendly path and a generally much more enjoybale riding experience. Before, there was a good portion of it that was mostly a gravel/dirt combination that was pretty unpleasant to ride on, and even more unpleasant when you are riding home in the dark and everyone forgot their bike lights (yes, this may have happened to me..and no, it was not fun)! I went up there the weekend that it was reopened to check it out and I definitely recommend giving it a go, even if you just ride to the end of the trail and back, which is what I did!
This route begins in the West Village, but you can easily take the entrance to the Hudson River Greenway that is most convenient for you. I suggested meeting around Christopher Street if you want a good central meeting location that will take you right to an entrance to the Greenway, but there are plenty of entrances further up depending on where you are coming from. Once you are on the greenway, it's a pretty straightforward ride, just keep following the path! There are a few jogs to watch out for here and there, but the signage on the greenway is well-done so it is clear where you should be headed as a cyclist.
For a nice break on the Hudson River Greenway, I recommend checking out the Little Red Lighthouse. This now defunct lighthouse has an interesting history, as it was first erected in Sandy Hook, NJ (check out my Sandy Hook post for more information on biking on the car-free island), and was then moved to this location in 1921. However, it was only operational for a few years before the construction of the George Washington Bridge rendered it obsolete, as the lights from the bridge directly overhead were more useful for navigation. The Lighthouse is now on the National Register of Historic Places, largely because of its inclusion in the children's book written by Hilegarde Smith called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. And if all this interesting history wasn't enough, it is a great place for both a photo-op and there is a restroom nearby. Either way, I took advantage of the photo-op to showcase my riding outfit, one of the first times I've ever gone out in a full kit set-up! I recently purchased padded cycling shorts, and now I truly can't believe that I ever lived without them. They are definitely an investment piece, but the ones I bought from NYC Velo were only around $65 and fit great. If you are thinking that longer rides are in your future, I really recommend purchasing a pair. They add an extra layer of comfort that helps you put in those miles.
The second stop on the greenway is the ever important lunch stop, and after exploring the variety of options available in Inwood, we decided to just take the scenic option and eat at The Hudson, which is aptly named for its location right off the greenway and view of the Hudson River. It was a great spot to eat at, with large picnic tables, not to mention a fantastic lookout spot. I had the cauliflower buffalo wings, and thought that they were tasty and well-portioned in size, but my friend had the nacho's and was disappointed by the lack of menu-promised beans. While the food isn't necessarily the draw at this location, I would return for the view alone, and for the ample bike parking space. It was a great place to relax and gear up for the rest of the ride, and I appreciated its location right off the greenway. Once you are finished with lunch, you can head right over onto Dyckman Street and finish the journey up to Van Cortlandt Park.
This part of the route is where things start to get a little interesting! Getting over to Van Cortlandt Park from the Hudson River Greenway isn't the most seamless trip, but some modifications from the Google suggestions made it much more enjoyable. To get up to the Bronx, take the hotly contested Dyckman Street (read this article if you need some background on what has been going on there) over to Seaman Avenue, then right onto 218 Street, and left onto Broadway. Broadway is what we would classify as a high-stress street but you will only be on here for a few blocks, and honestly, no shame in walking your bike on the sidewalk if you don't feel comfortable battling the cars on a multi-lane road without any cycling infrastructure. Knowing that cyclists are often taking this connector from the Hudson River Greenway up to the Bronx, it would be great to see some protected cycling infrastructure built out here. My friend and I walked our bikes over the Broadway Bridge as the pathway is a bit too narrow to feel comfortable cycling over.
Once over the Broadway Bridge, follow the signs to Van Cortlandt Park for an improved cycling experience to the park. Google suggests that you take Broadway, but that will not be at all enjoyable as you will be battling lanes of traffic and cars going at relatively high speeds. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the amount of signage guiding cyclists to the park, as you can see in the photo above. There are trail markers for the NYC Greenway, the Empire State Trail, and the East Coast Greenway, as well as the DOT signs for the bike route to Van Cortlandt. If you follow the route markers you will end up on the same route that I am suggesting here and be able to avoid Broadway almost entirely.
To get the Van Cortlandt once we were over into the Bronx, we walked our bikes off the Broadway Bridge over to W 228th Street, and took that until Marble Hill Avenue, then over to 230th and over again to Tibbett Avenue (all of these steps are shown on the route map above as well). Tibbett Avenue is an Open Street, and it is well maintained, which made for a nice car-free biking experience! Once you get to the end of Tibbett Avenue, it's just a quick right onto 240th Street until you hit Broadway, and then the entrance to the park is just across street. It should be pretty clear where to enter when you are waiting to cross Broadway from 240th Street, as you will see the same bike and trail markers from before.
Once you enter over into the park, it isn't too long before you should reach the trailhead. If you get confused as to where it is, it is located right next to the boat house and I marked down the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Fountain as a wayfinding landmark to be able to find the trailhead. Once you get to the beginning of the trail, just head up and appreciate your short jaunt through the woods on a beautifully paved path!
Hi! I'm Rachel.
I'm creating curated bike routes in all 5 boroughs of NYC. Routes include downloadable route map, descriptions of the bicycle infrastructure, and suggestions on places to eat and things to see. Enjoy!