Weekend Wheeling in New York City

Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area (Long Island)
By Sproule Love
  |  Gorp.com
Rocky Point Essentials
Getting There
By car: Take I-495 (the Long Island Expressway) to exit 67 north. Head north on Route 21 for six miles to Whiskey Road, where you turn right. Look on the left for the sign marking the main entrance to the property.

By train (the Long Island Railroad): From Pennsylvania Station, it is one hour and 45 minutes to the Yaphank Station, from which you can ride to the area. Check out the LIRR Web site for schedule, fare, and bike permit (required) information.

Trail Permits
Free riding permits are required and must be requested ahead of time from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) by mail:

NYS DEC Sporting License Office SUNY Building 40 Stony Brook, NY 11790-2356
Phone (516) 444-0273

C.L.I.M.B. (Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists) — see their Web site — is an excellent resource for trail maps for this and other Long Island rides.


Until 1977, the area that now makes up Rocky Point was owned by Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and served as one of the country's largest shortwave radio transmission facilities. In RCA's heyday, there were over 100 400-foot-tall steel towers on the property. They were arranged in eight large fields that from the air would have looked like spokes radiating from the hub of a large bicycle wheel. Those fields and the foundations for all those towers are still visible to riders today and an eerie symbol of the rebirth of Rocky Point as a Long Island mountain biking destination.

Rocky Point seems amazingly wild for the heart of Long Island suburbia. I was startled to see a majestic six-point buck darting from the trail when I rode around one blind corner. The trail winds through secluded pine forests that have grown out of the sandy till left by retreating glaciers eons ago.

It is possible to spend an entire day on the loop that winds around Rocky Point. Riders can take several expert extensions (they are marked with black diamonds) and the West Side Loop (not far from the parking lot on the left) to prolong the effort into a rollicking 18-mile roller coaster ride. Each expert detour has its own exciting challenge, whether it is a fake log bridge, a staircase descending a steep section of the trail, or several quick traverses of a dry streambed.

This is not the most challenging single-track you can find, but there are not many 18-mile mountain bike loops this close to New York either. If, however, you are looking for something more technical and a bit less distant, ponder a pedal in Stillwell Woods.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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