Biking the Big Apple
When the Manhattan greenway system is completed, you'll be able to cycle a complete circuit of the island, 12 miles from tip to tip. You'll start at Battery Park at Manhattan's southern most tip. From Battery Park, you can look out at New York Bay with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island rising out of the water. Behind you, the skyscrapers of Wall Street loom overhead. And you are within a stone's throw of more historic sites: Castle Clinton, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Fulton Fish Market.
You will head north up the center of the island on the Olmsted Bikeway to Central Park. A loop zipping through this nineteenth century masterpiece designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux will take you past the bird-filled Ramble, the elegant Conservatory Garden, and Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon who lived across the street in the Dakota. From the park, you will head up on the Manhattan Escarpment Trail to the northern tip of Manhattan at foresty Inwood Hill Park.
Turning south, you will head west to the Hudson River Greenway, with views of the dramatic New Jersey Palisades. You can head over the George Washington Bridge, part of the greenway system, for a closer exploration of these cliffs towering over the Hudson River. Or you can continue down Manhattan's west side thorough pleasant Riverside Park and the waterfronts of Hells Kitchen, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village. And through Downtown to the Battery. Where you started.
Much of this route is still a dream, but several in-place sections already offer great urban rides. The Central Park loop is filled with riders on any nice day. The Hudson River Greenway is in place over the George Washington Bridge and through Riverside Park. It peters out through midtown but picks up again in lower Manhattan.
And you can also cycle most of the eastern shore of Manhattan using the East River Esplanade. The esplanade follows the East River, passing under the Brooklyn Bridge eventually skirting the edge of the culturally vibrant Lower East Side, then past the United Nations, Roosevelt Island, Spanish Harlem. You can cross over to the Bronx at a number of places.
The Bronx is one of the most under-appreciated neighborhoods in New York City. Most of the southwest greenway system is still on the drawing board, but when completed some of the highlights will include a waterside trail along the Harlem River up to the Hudson. Bikers will have access to some great views, city and state parks, and Wave Hill Environmental Center, the most magnificent public garden in New York City, complete with regal old mansion and a woodlands that is being lovingly restored.
Mosholu-Pelham Greenway is the highlight of the existing Bronx system. This route links Pelham Bay Park in the east with Van Cortlandt Park to the west. Pelham Bay Park is one of the wildest parks in the city, and has unparalleled frontage along refreshing Long Island Sound. In between Pelham and Van Cortlandt, bikers can visit the New York Botanic Garden and the excellent Bronx Zoo -- an all around good deal.
The Hutchinson River Parkway Trail cuts south to north, starting at Ferry Point Park, then skirts the ede of Pelham Bay until it reaches the Westchester County Park. Most of this trail is in poor condition, but if you want to make your way quickly through the east Bronx, this trail is worth a try.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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