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Top 10 Bike Trails in New York

Map of top 10 locations to bike in New York

New York State is home to some of the most dynamic and beautiful biking trails in the nation. From the Adirondacks region down to New York City, there’s no lack of diversity when it comes to cycling adventures. If you’re new to the area or visiting, here are some of the best places to cycle in the state.

1. Ellicottville Loop – Ellicottville, NY

Ellicottville Loop Trail looking over the cliff in New York

A regional destination for cycling, the Ellicottville Loop is an IMBA Epic located an hour south of Buffalo. This loop is a challenging ride and is ideal for expert riders who want to test their limits. Although it’s a difficult loop, this trail is thrilling and has been named one of the most scenic mountain biking trails in the Eastern U.S.

The Ellicottville Loop consists of about 31 miles of trail and boasts 3,000 feet of demanding climbs. Packed with steep ascents and rocky descents, this trail is sure to be a thrilling ride that tests your limits. The loop is primarily singletrack and is somewhat well-marked, but the trails can be hard to follow if you’re not paying attention. While you ride, you’ll enjoy breathtaking scenery in the McCarty Hill and Rock City state forests.

Consider starting your ride at the Holiday Valley Training Center (6557 Holiday Valley Rd, Ellicottville, NY 14731) or the Eagle Road Trailhead (Eagle Forest Rd, Great Valley, NY 14741).

Tips: This loop uses several different trail segments, and it’s easy to get lost, so buy a map or find one online before you head out!

2. Daniels Road State Forest – Greenfield, NY

Hiking Trail in Daniels Road State Forest

Another demanding but worthwhile area for mountain bikers is Daniels Road State Forest in upstate New York. This beautiful 523-acre forest is home to 14 miles of designated mountain biking trails maintained by the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association.

The trails at Daniels Road State Forest range from easy to very difficult and are some of the most dynamic routes in the state. These trails don’t offer much elevation change, but they are extremely rough and rocky. Although you won’t get a smooth and flowy ride here, you’ll definitely enjoy some challenging rides that will help you develop your technical skills.

The Daniels Road trailhead is just north of Saratoga Springs, on Clinton Avenue, and Daniels Road in Greenfield, NY.

Tips: If you want a unique thrill at Daniels Road State Forest, try biking these trails at night! It’s an invigorating ride that many thrill-seeking cyclists enjoy.

3. Ninham Mountain State Forest – Carmel, NY

Biking Route in Ninham Mountain State Forest

Ninham Mountain State Forest in Carmel is a very popular area for bikers, boasting technical mountain biking routes that aren’t fully mapped out, which is a significant draw for adventure-seekers. The property is home to an extensive network of old trails and roads that run about 15 miles and are surrounded by hardwoods and conifer plantations.

If you plan to bike through Ninham Mountain State Forest’s 1,054 acres, it’s a good idea to check out the trails beforehand and do your research. There are several different trails you can bike, with the following being some of the more popular ones:

  • Top Notch
  • Hell’s Gate
  • Twin Oaks
  • Pinner
  • Mid Pinner

For directions on how to get to these trails, you can visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website here.

Tips: Since these trails aren’t always marked, getting lost is easy! Ride with a group, or make sure you have a map, your phone, or a GPS on you in case you lose your way. You could easily spend a day biking in this area, so plan to bring extra water and snacks too.

4. Plattekill Mountain – Roxbury, NY

Snowy Trail in Plattekill Mountain

During the winter months, Plattekill Mountain is a desirable skiing destination. But the remainder of the year, mountain bikers flock to this area for its thrilling trails and scenic views. Known as one of the best downhill mountain biking areas on the East Coast, this area has more than 50 miles of trails that span 2,000 vertical feet.

Plattekill Mountain boasts 38 different trails, with some of them being significantly challenging. Although it’s ideal for moderate to experienced cyclists, there are trails for all skill levels. Guides are also available for those who want them. Cyclists also highly recommend renting a bike, as it may be cheaper than any damage you might do to your own bike due to the highly challenging rides.

To get to the Plattekill Mountain Ski Resort, you’ll need to head to 469 Plattekill Rd, Roxbury, NY 12474. If you plan to stay for multiple days, you can camp at the top of the mountain or stay at a local hotel or inn.

Tips: Don’t worry about having to cycle up the mountain—the bike lift will take you up so you can enjoy an exhilarating ride back down. It operates from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on select weekends.

5. Catskill Scenic Trail – Grand Gorge to Bloomville, NY

Trail of Catskill Scenic

The Catskill Scenic Trail is a well-maintained hiking and biking trail that runs along an old railroad in rural Delaware County, New York. It features about 26 miles of trail, including a section that runs along the west branch of the Delaware River.

This beautifully scenic rail-trail winds its way through the Catskill Mountains, offering gorgeous rolling mountain views. On the Catskill Scenic Trail, you’ll bike through lush farmland, past rippling streams, and through small quiet communities for a peaceful and relatively easy ride. The ground surface of this trail is primarily dirt, grass, or crushed stone, so it can be rather bumpy in places. We recommend bringing a mountain bike to ride this one!

For a detailed map that includes information on where to park, check out the Catskill Scenic Trail website.

Tips: One downside of the Catskill Scenic Trail is that some ATV riders use it, even though motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail. So you’ll want to watch for those. The route also intersects with busy state highways at Grand Gorge and Bloomville, so exercise an abundance of caution when crossing.

6. Allegheny River Valley Trail – Allegany, NY

Path of Allegheny River Valley Trail

The Allegheny River Valley Trail is a 6.2-mile trail that connects the communities of Allegany, NY, and Olean, NY, along the Allegheny River. This trail is unique because although half of it runs along abandoned rail yards, it’s also a loop, which is rare. Most rail-trails are straight routes that require cyclists to start at one trailhead, ride the trail, and return to the same trailhead for a round-trip experience. Instead, you can ride the Allegheny River Valley Trail in one complete loop.

This trail is an easy ride, featuring a flat asphalt surface the entire way, which makes it ideal for cyclists of all levels, including kids and families. The scenic, forested views make for a relaxing and enjoyable leisure ride, and you’ll pass by majestic oaks, maples, ash trees, and cherry trees as you cycle. You can also complete the loop and then ride to Constitution Avenue in Olean, a major retail hub for the area.

To access parking for the Allegheny River Valley Trail, you can head to the trailhead at Bonaventure University in Allegany. The trail is adjacent to the parking lot off Bonaventure Road. If you prefer to start your ride at the trailhead in Olean, Four Mile Brewing at 202 E Greene St, Olean, NY 14760 allows trail parking.

Tips: Although this route has some short dips and climbs, it’s primarily for leisure riding. If you’re looking for a course where you can train or work on your speed and endurance, this isn’t it.

7. Great Lakes Seaway Trail – Erie County, PA to St. Lawrence County, NY

Great Lakes Seaway Trail with Cyclists in Small Town

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a designated National Scenic Byway that spans an impressive 518 miles along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and Lake Erie. It was selected to be one of America’s byways due to its distinctive landscape and historical significance. One of America’s most historic and beautiful highways, this trail is a must-ride for cyclists from the area or those traveling to the Adirondack North Country.

One of the best things about cycling that Great Lakes Seaway Trail is all the adventures you’ll have along the way. As you ride this route, you’ll pass through 11 counties filled with fascinating cultural heritage sites, lighthouses, great eats, gorgeous vistas, exciting wildlife, and more. Cyclists typically separate the route into four different segments, starting in the east:

  • Massena to Ogdensburg (46 miles)
  • Ogdensburg to Clayton (48 miles)
  • Clayton to Sackets Harbor (41 miles)
  • Sackets Harbor to Oswego (50 miles)

Here is a map of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail from the Federal Highway Administration featuring rest stops, bathrooms, picnic areas, campgrounds, and other points of interest.

Tips: If you plan to cross the U.S.-Canada border by bike at any point during your ride on this trail, you’ll need to bring your passport or enhanced driver’s license (EDL). Additionally, certain sections of this trail are very rural, which means you’ll have limited access to services. Make sure to carry water, snacks, a map, repair kit, first aid supplies, and your cell phone on you while you ride. 

8. Harlem Valley Rail Trail – Dutchess County and Columbia County

Great Lakes Seaway Trail paved path with wooden fence

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail spans more than 46 miles from Wassaic to Millerton, NY. It stretches along the old railroad bed that connected New York City, the Harlem Valley, and Chatham, NY. The completed sections offer about 23 miles of cycling and cut through some of the Harlem Valley’s most scenic land.

This popular biking route is an easy trail that’s completely paved and well-marked, making it an excellent choice for cyclists of all capabilities. Arguably one of the nicest trails in the northeast, the level riding is complemented by beautiful views of wetlands, open grasslands, tree farms, bubbling creeks, and farms.

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is easy to access, with several different parking lots and access points along the way. You can find directions to the trailheads here on the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation website.

Tips: Along the way, you’ll also pass through several communities, including Amenia, Millerton, and Copake Falls. These areas have plenty of shops and restaurants, so you may want to plan to stop and explore.

9. Hudson River Greenway – New York City, New York

New York Hudson River Greenway with man walking into beginning of path

Of course, we couldn’t complete this list without including a ride in the city! If you’re looking for a way to explore the city by bike safely, this trail is a great way to do it. The Hudson River Greenway is an 11-mile bike route that runs along the Hudson River from Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan to Dyckman Street.

Known as one of the best cycling arteries in the city, New York City simply wouldn’t be the same without it. As you bike along the trail, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the skyline, and it will lead you past some of Manhattan’s most famous sights, including the 9/11 Memorial, Battery Park, The George Washington Bridge, and Central Park. So definitely take the time to stop and check everything out if you’re visiting the area!

There are many entrances and exits along the Greenway, so it’s easy to pick it up or hop off along the way.

Tips: The Hudson River Greenway is a safe place to ride for cyclists of all ages and skill levels. The trail is always crowded, so make sure to cycle in a single file line for safety purposes and watch your speed.

10. Ausable Chasm – Ausable Chasm, NY

Large Bridge over River in Ausable Chasm

The Ausable Chasm is a sandstone gorge located 12 miles south of Plattsburgh, NY, and one mile north of Keeseville, NY. While it’s a popular tourist attraction for adventure-seekers, it’s also a well-liked spot for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Bikers who head to this wonder known as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks” get a taste of the area’s untouched wilderness and enjoy the natural beauty while they bike.

The Ausable Chasm is a destination for rock climbing, hiking, tubing, rafting, and more, but it’s also home to more than 25 miles of mountain biking trails for beginners, intermediate cyclists, and advanced bikers. Families will enjoy the beginner trails, which are wide and flat for easy cycling. More advanced bikers can take the more challenging singletrack trails that lead up through the thick forest and steeper hills.

To get to the Ausable Chasm, head to 2144 Route 9, Ausable Chasm, NY 12911. It’s located right off I-87 between exits 34 and 35.

Tips: The trails are managed by Ausable Chasm Campgrounds, so there is a fee to ride them. However, if you’re staying at the campground, it’s free to ride them. Bike rentals and trail maps are also available on-site.

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References:

  1. https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/565265/ellicottville-loop-imba-epic  
  2. https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/104708.html 
  3. https://www.trailforks.com/region/daniels-road-state-forest-12242/?activitytype=1&z=11.0&lat=43.11779&lon=-73.73109 
  4. https://www.trailforks.com/region/ninham-mountain-state-forest-22765/?activitytype=1&z=12.4&lat=41.45608&lon=-73.70506 
  5. https://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/plattekill-ski-resort/ 
  6. https://plattekill.com/mountain-biking/ 
  7. http://catskillscenictrail.org 
  8. https://www.traillink.com/trail/catskill-scenic-trail/ 
  9. https://www.traillink.com/trail/allegheny-river-valley-trail/
  10. https://www.iloveny.com/listing/allegheny-river-valley-trail/5949/ 
  11. http://www.bikethebyways.org/great-lakes-seaway-trail/ 
  12. https://www.discoverupstateny.com/visit-regions/seaway-trail/ 
  13. https://www.hvrt.org/the-trail
  14. https://www.traillink.com/trail/harlem-valley-rail-trail/ 
  15. https://www.traillink.com/trail/hudson-river-greenway/
  16. https://www.ausablechasm.com 
  17. https://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/ausable-chasm/ 

Photo Sources:

Andre Carrotflower, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Photo by Tyler Lastovich from Pexels
Rosst7200, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Rock nj at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
MissvainOriginal author: User:Stilfehler, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
English836 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tania Dey, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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