36 mile advanced route to Ridgewood, NJ
Starts in Ridgewood, NY and ends in Ridgewood, NJ. Take NJ transit from Ridgewood, NJ to Sloatsburg, NY to get to Harriman State Park.
A- Normas Corner Shop
B- Bagels on the Square
C- George Washington Bridge
D- Saddle River County Park- start of Saddle River Bike Path
E- American Bulldog Coffee Roasters
F- Ridgewood, NJ Transit Station
Harriman State Park is a beautiful nearby location ideal for picturesque biking, but getting there can be an intimidating prospect for the everyday cyclist. Generally, the idea of biking to Harriman evokes images of rolling hills and intense bikers crushing intimidating climbs on their carbon fiber frames (at least for me it does!). As I grow on my biking journey, I have been thinking of creative ways to bike to Harriman while avoiding any serious grade changes. My "Hacking Harriman" series started with "The Best Upstate Downhill Route" which suggests taking NJ transit to Harriman Station for a leisurely downhill ride on Seven Lakes Drive. This route is slightly more ambitious, a 36-mile journey that will get you the majority of the way up to the park from New York City. The Ridgewood to Ridgewood Route takes you from Ridgewood, Queens to Ridgewood, New Jersey, where you can hop on NJ transit to Sloatsburg, NY, and finish your journey up to Harriman State Park on Seven Lakes Drive. Strap on that saddle bag and get ready for some coasting and minimal climbing up to gorgeous Harriman State Park.
This route starts in Ridgewood, one because I live there, and two because it's fun to say I biked from Ridgewood to Ridgewood! If you don't live far out in Queens, you can take a few miles off your journey by starting closer to your home. If you are meeting up friends from around North Brooklyn or elsewhere, the base of the Williamsburg Bridge is also a good starting point.
Make sure to check the train times out of Ridgewood before you head out because there are not frequent trains up to Sloatsburg and some trains require a layover. The two train options on the day I went up were either 10:30 am or 12:45 pm with a layover, so we opted for the 10:30 am train. Google said the route should only take around 3 hours and thirty minutes, but I wanted to err on the side of caution and make sure that there was time for breaks, so I left my apartment at the insane hour of 6 am. For the first stretch of this journey take the Williamsburg Bridge (or bridge of choice) over to Allen Street, and either take Houston Street for the straight shot (not my favorite, even early in the morning) or take Broadway to W 3rd Street.
If you feel like grabbing a bite before your journey, you can stop at Bagels on The Square, which appeared to be the only bagel shop in the area open before 7 am. I am not going to say that bagel was anything to write home about, or even to write about on this blog, but sometimes you gotta do with the sustenance available to you. (Or just bring a sandwich, if you have high bagel standards). After the bagel stop, head up on Bedford Ave, and over on Christopher Street to the entrance of the Hudson River Greenway. The one perk at leaving at a ridiculously early hour was that the HRG was almost completely empty, which made for a much more pleasant journey than normal. Take the HRG up all the way to W 158th Street, turn onto Riverside Drive, turn again onto W 165th Street, then take Fort Washington Avenue until 177th Street. From there, take Cabrini Blvd to the entrance to the George Washington Bridge. And while some intrepid cyclists may bike up the ramp to the bridge, I caution that you walk your bike. My friend did the bridge the week before and ended up slashing his hand by hitting the fence when someone passed by too close. No need to start your journey with an injury! Bonus, if you are walking, you have time for some glamour shots.
It was my first time taking the George Washington Bridge, and while I do appreciate that the bridge has a dedicated bike path (which so many of our city's bridges need, a quick shoutout to the Transportation Alternatives Bridges For People campaign), I didn't find it to be the most pleasant experience. I would love to see some sound barriers or something put up to protect cyclists from the noise and exhaust fumes from the cars. Once you cross over the bridge, take a right onto Hudson Terrace. From here on out you are biking in New Jersey on roads with some higher speed limits and less biking infrastructure, so be cautious. I found there to be enough room on most streets and that drivers were relatively courteous, it helps that this area of New Jersey is commonly used by other cyclists going to River Road or the Palisades. From Hudson Terrace, turn onto E Palisades Ave. Before you turn onto Williams Street, there is a small town center in Englewood that is a good place to take a rest stop. We took a quick break at the Starbucks noted on the map.
After your break, take a left onto William Street, then right onto W Forest Ave where you can enter Milton A. Votee Park to cut through to Palisades Ave. From Palisades Ave, take a right onto Grayson Place and enter into Phelps Park. From here take a quick left onto River Road and cut across to Fairleigh Dickinson University. Inside of the university, you are looking to access a small pedestrian bridge to get you across the Hackensack River, then to get out of the campus by taking University Plaza Drive. Take a quick left onto Main Street, and another quick right onto Euclid Ave, followed by a left onto Prospect Ave, and a right onto Central Ave, which will take you to the entrance of the Saddle River Bike Path in Saddle River County Park. This bike path is completely paved, super scenic, and great for biking. There was ample space for pedestrians and cyclists alike, and on the journey, I saw not one, but three grazing deer that did not seem at all perturbed by the humans around them. Riding on this path was definitely the highlight of the trip, as it was truly picturesque and well-maintained, and nothing like what we have in NYC. Even if you don’t want to bike to Harriman, this path is working checking out in its own right.
Take the Saddle River Bike Path up to Alan Ave, where you will loop around and exit onto Prospect Street. Take a left on Hudson Street, then a right onto Broad Street, where you can stop at this cute coffee shop, American Bulldog Coffee Roasters for a snack before you board your train. Though I had been nervous about making the train in time, we got there with about 30 minutes to spare! Once you've hydrated and caffeinated, head over to the Ridgewood Train station to catch your train up to Sloatsburg. The train ride was a quick thirty minutes, so don't get too comfortable! When you arrive in Sloatsburg, you are very close to the entrance to Harriman State Park, it’s just a quick jaunt through the surrounding neighborhood to connect up to Seven Lakes Drive. I was staying at the ACA Camp at Lake Sebago, where my kayak club, The Sebago Canoe Club, has a cabin. It was about 3 miles up Seven Lakes Drive to access the entrance to the ACA camp, and we did have to climb some slightly undulating hills, though nothing in comparison to what we would have had to climb if we went all the way. Hope you enjoyed your Harriman hack to some beautiful scenery, and in my case, amazing lake views with kayaking!
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!