Bike paths that wind through marshlands, past 100 year old train stations, through nature preserves and along the Atlantic Ocean…..Interested? I didn’t even mention the downhill trail yet! There are a countless number of bike trails around Long Island, and so many more to explore a quick hour north of the city…So pack your lunch, grab your bike and start pedaling…we are about to go on an adventure! You won’t need your passport for this one!
Jones Beach Bikeway
The Jones Beach Bikeway….This bike path starts in Cedar Creek Park, Seaford NY. The path is paved and runs for 7.5 miles down to Jones Beach. It has actually been extended another 0.7 miles to bring you right up to the East Bathhouse. Along your ride, you will cross over 3 bridges (one is actually a drawbridge) and gain beautiful views of the water along the way. A word to the wise…if you find yourself on this path heading towards Jones Beach, and you find yourself cruising like a mad man on your bike, take notice of the wind direction and the wind speed that day. I have gone down the path a time or two like a superhero, only to turn around at the end and feel like I am riding against hurricane winds. Seeing Dorothy and her little dog Toto fly by is not out of the question. And you have got over 8 miles to go to get back to your car…if you make it! Other than that, it’s a fantastic path that I have enjoyed (most days) for years.
Park in one of the many parking fields in Cedar Creek Park. If you are not a resident of Nassau County, Park on one of the side streets around the corner to avoid the park fee. It’s free for residents. There are many bathrooms in the park and you can usually score a fudge pop or creamsicle from the ice cream truck that parks on the field by the playground.
Bethpage State Park
Bethpage State Park has 13 miles of paved bike trails on a relatively flat path that winds through wooded areas, past little streams and ponds and over several quant bridges. At one point I felt like I was in a Claude Monet painting!! We started in the train station parking lot at the Massapequa train station off of sunrise Highway, which is actually where the Massapequa Park begins. After a few miles, it turns into Bethpage State Park. You can also park in a lot where the Bethpage Park begins, but I loved the Massapequa section of the trail. We even saw a bunny rabbit hopping across the path while we were riding.
Heckscher State Park
This park has 5 miles of bike trails on flat roads leading through the park and along the Long Island Sound. There are several parking lots and public bathrooms open in season. There was no fee to enter …and there’s a good chance you will see deer throughout the park (causing my son to have flashbacks of his recent deer bite in Japan). Pedal faster, James Henry, Pedal faster!!!
Cross Island Parkway Bike Path
This path appears to have been repaved since I was on it, leaving behind my memories of dodging bike trail pot holes like I was dodging asteroids in a 1980s Atari video game!!! You can park right off Fort Totten Blvd, off of the Cross Island (Bell Blvd. exit) in a small parking lot. The path runs parallel to the parkway and offers outstanding views of the Throgs Neck Bridge. It’s a decent path to bike or rollerblade on and gets quite crowded on weekends. This path runs for 3.1 miles..
Yorktown Heights Rail Trail Path
My son and I loved this trail! There are several places to park along the path (parking lots are small and fill up fast though), we just parked in the Yorktown Green shopping center parking lot in the town of Yorktown Heights. We headed south on the trail and were surrounded by tall trees and ponds with little turtles sunbathing on rocks. at about 4 miles, we came to a really cool steel bridge previously used for trains (this path is on former railroad tracks). After crossing the bridge, the trail continues through the woods. This was one of my favorite trails! There is a portable toilet along the path….I was daring enough to sneak a peek inside as I had to use the bathroom. I am not sure I have ever witnessed a more disgusting site (and once I watched my son projectile vomit as if he was competing with Reagan from the Exorcist) . Sometimes, while suffering a night terror, I think my mind revisits this place. Needless to say, I opted out. USE THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU GET ON THE TRAIL. Everything else about it was great!
This is another “rails to trails” bike path about an hour north of NYC. It has some really cool sites that give the trail character. What are they, you ask? For starters, there is an original railroad stop now transformed into a tiny museum right along the trail in Chester. (we actually parked in the parking lot and started from there) There’s also a large old building complex called Fort LaGuardia that used to house NYC’s homeless along the path. It’s closed now and is rumored to be HAUNTED… After you climb through the hole in the fence that says NO TRESPASSING, you can ride up the hill to get a better look. There you will find another hole in another fence to get into the building that clearly says, NO TRESPASSING!, You can’t take your bikes beyond this point…they won’t fit through the hole in the fence. Not that we tried…There’s also a nature preserve right past Fort LaGuardia building to explore if you wish.
When you are done with your little bike adventure, I would recommend a stop in Warwick (about 10 minutes away) . There are fantastic little restaurants in town, along with Pennings Cidery (everything’s better with alcohol…and cider is no exception) and if you can spend the night, one of the few remaining Drive-In Movies that still exists is directly across from the cidery. Warwick Drive-In is a MUST visit!!!!
I must add 2 bike adventures a little further away, but well worth the trip…….
The Lehigh Valley Trail
OK….This is awesome! The town of Jim Thorpe, Pa. is in the Lehigh Valley, appx. 2 hours from NYC. The town itself is charming…and the 25 mile downhill bike trail is a blast! We rented bikes from Pocono Biking right in town for $43 that also provided us with the van ride up to the top of the trail. They unload your bikes and you are off! The trail leads you on a relatively gentle downhill ride with opportunities to stop mid- mountain at a lake for a picnic lunch, and lots of really cool views. You also ride alongside old railroad tracks and through tall trees, waterfalls and unbelievable mountain views. You literally finish the ride back in town on the street where Pocono Biking is located.
Best place to stay overnight? The Inn at Jim Thorpe. The Inn has a very “New Orleans” architecture going for it and is in a great location, walking distance to the Pocono Biking bike shop and some cool sites in Jim Thorpe!
Riding around Block Island
Ride the Block Island North East Lighthouse route. If you find yourself out in Montauk for a few days, hopping on the Block Island Ferry is a fun adventure! The ferry leaves from West Lake Drive in Montauk, takes a little under 2 hours, and leaves you at the pier where you can catch a quick cab, or walk into town (we walked). Once in town, you can rent bikes at The Seacrest Bike Rental and ride (mostly along the road) about 4.5 miles to the North East Lighthouse..There are quite a few cars, so be aware! At one point I did feel like the ride would never end (it was so very windy)…but once you get there it’s worth it! I should mention that it’s another 20 minute hike along the beach to reach the lighthouse after you park your bike! The lighthouse contains a very small museum AND when we were there we even got to meet the resident seagull ( a rescue seagull) …so cute! Then there’s the long ride back to town! Fans of the Showtime series, The Affair might recognize the hotel in town where Alison and Noah spent a night during season 2 !
Oh…..and a last suggestion I almost forgot about! Want to have a seriously good time while pedaling? Check out Brew Crew Cycles in Riverhead, NY. It’s a 14 person “bike” that you and your friends (and strangers) ride around the town of Riverhead on. It includes a few random stops at local breweries!!! It does not get any better than this!! I won’t mention names, but some friends pedaled much more than others…
So dust off your bike, check the air in the tires and grab some water. Summer is on it’s way, get out and enjoy some of the great paths New York has to offer! Coconut Charlie and I might just see you out and about on a path somewhere! Happy trails!