Weekend Wheeling in New York City
Although it is only accessible by car, Ringwood is easily the most widely known single-track close to New York City. Like many public lands in the United States, what is now a 4,000-acre state park used to be a stately manor complete with botanical gardens, a vineyard, an orchard, and out-buildings. In its heyday during the first half of the 19th century, this estate was supported by iron ore mining. You may even discover a set of stone ruins along the trail.
The road to the trailhead winds through all of this history, but I found myself thinking more about the single-track that lay ahead and the surprisingly short (only an hour and a half!) drive from Manhattan. Mountain bikers park in Lot C and most of the trails are accessible from there. When you pay the small parking fee at the entrance booth, you receive a free trail map.
Beginning from Lot C, you can follow an eight-mile loop that circumscribes the general mountain biking area in the park. Ringwood's trails are a combination of ancient carriage roads and more-recently-cut single-track extensions and connectors that give the park its labyrinthine reputation. Most of the double-track carriage roads are beginner level, whereas the single-track trails can be a technical challenge when they get rocky or muddy. There are a few very technical sections that demand expert bike-handling skills but are not too long to walk through.
Unlike at Stillwell Woods or Rocky Point, it is easy to get lost on Ringwood's confusing network of poorly marked trails. Ideally you should go with someone who has been there before. If you do get lost, it is not too hard to find your way back to a landmark that will help you find your bearings or the edge of the property. And because of the area's heavy use by both bikers and hikers, you are unlikely to be alone in these woods.
Ringwood State Park
Ringwood, NJ 07456
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication