Sure, our ever-popular rail trails are prime real estate for riders of all skill levels, but there are dozens of lesser-known biking hot spots to check out, too. Here are three of our favorites.
While not a rail trail, this just-as-scenic bikeway runs alongside the Hudson River in Rockland County. The six-mile trail is flat along the southern end, making it easy for beginners, and more adventurous on the northern part, where thrill-seekers can ride over rocky hills and along narrow pathways looking over cliffs. World-class views can be enjoyed from both ends.
This two-mile trail starts on Clum Hill Road across from Cortina Valley in Haines Falls, and makes its way around Tannersville Lake. Riders follow the bed of the old Huckleberry Railroad, which was once used to transport tourists from New York City to Catskill Mountain resorts. The moderate, graded dirt path is perfect for beginners and family rides.
These historic, 100-year-old trails were constructed by the Smiley family and were some of the first carriage roads in the country. Offering beautiful views of 23,000-acre Minnewaska State Park in Gardiner, the roads are currently undergoing a complete restoration; 10 out of 14 are open for leisurely rides. (The Castle Point Carriage Road is being restored during the 2015 season and will be closed until completion.)
Entry points for riders begin off of Route 44/55. A preserve day permit for biking is $17, plus a $10 parking fee. Tip: A day permit at the adjacent Mohonk Preserve will allow you to bike on both properties, as well as at the Mohonk Mountain House.
Make sure to lube up your chain no more than once a week. A rusty chain can lead to tough gear changes, which can damage the chain, forcing replacement.