The first ride in GrNY’s Spring Gravel Series (SGS) is the ride to Nyack and then back to the City on The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. This route has two distance options…
Short Distance Group
- 49 miles (or as little as 30 w/ MetroNorth return)
- 1,990 feet climbing
Long Distance Group
- 65 miles
- 2,890 feet climbing (or 3,500 if you take River Road)
There’s not much climbing, and there are MetroNorth stops every few miles towards the end of the ride. So if you get in over your head it’s no big deal.
- “River Road” (Henry Hudson Drive – long distance group only)
- State Line Lookout (long distance group only)
- A short stop at Market Diner
- Gravel trail in Tallman Mountain State Park
- Scenic overlook looking over Piermont, the Hudson River and the Mario Cuomo Bridge (optional)
- The Old Erie Trail (gravel, aka the Raymond G. Esposito Trail)
- A stop at Runcible Spoon Bakery or Boxer Donut in Nyack
- The Hudson River Trail between Upper Nyack and Haverstraw (mostly gravel, long distance group only)
- Going over the Mario Cuomo Bridge
- The southern half of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail (gravel)
- A brief stop at the Lyndhurst Mansion
- End of ride meet up in Fort Tryon Park
The route starts and ends in Washington Heights, not far from the GW Bridge.
- The main route
- An alternate start to the ride (which will most likely be used by the long distance group)
These routes involve considerable riding on multi-use gravel paths some of which is a bit rough. 35-47mm tires are recommended, but strong riders will do fine on 28mm tires.
The meeting point for the ride is J Hood Wright Park just inside the park entrance at 174th Street and Fort Washington Avenue. There are bathrooms available (if the park staff has opened them that day).
The long distance group has two options at the start – take the main route that goes on streets through towns like Tenafly and Rockleigh before the first stop at Market Diner. OR (more likely) taking “River Road” through Palisades Interstate Park. The distance is about the same, but there’s about 600 feet of extra climbing, 400 of which is in a single mile and a half stretch at the northern end of River Road. Riders who do the extra climbing get to stop by State Line Lookout 🎦, which has great views up and down the river.
With any luck, the extra climbing and stop will slow the fast riders down enough that the two groups converge (briefly) at Market Diner which has food, fluids, a bathroom, and tons of cyclists.
Right after Market Diner we’ll turn into Tallman Mountain State Park and ride the gravel trail through the park 🎦. There’s an optional (recommended) minor detour at the north end of the park to go to an overlook with great views of the Hudson River, Piermont and the Cuomo Bridge.
We then exit the park, go through Sparkill and get on the Old Erie Trail which is a bit narrow and slightly rough in spots 🎦. (Just enough to irritate road cyclists who try it on skinny tires.) The section of the Old Erie Trail we’re riding is known as the Raymond G. Esposito Trail.
The long distance group will continue north through (lovely) Upper Nyack to Nyack Beach State Park where they’ll get on the (mostly gravel) Hudson River Greenway that goes betweeen Upper Nyack and Haverstraw. The lower half of the trail is a smooth cinder trail 🎦. The upper half is a bit rougher in spots 🎦, but generally fine on wider tires. Just before the end of the trail in Haverstraw you’ll go past “Treason Site” where Benedict Arnold tried to give West Point to the British. When you get to the end of the trail you’ll turn around and head back to Nyack where you can stop (again) for food and fluids.
The shorter distance group won’t do the Hudson River Greenway to Haverstraw. They’ll turn around and continue on the route and go over the Mario Cuomo Bridge to get to the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail (the “OCA”). It’s worth mentioning that the rest stops on the bridge have some pretty good views of the Hudson.
Right after you cross the bridge (which is about the 30 mile mark for the short distance route) there are MetroNorth stops every few miles along the route. The one in Tarrytown is an express stop with 2 trains an hour. The others are local stops with 1 train an hour (typically). So if you find you’ve overextended yourself, you can simply take the train back to the City.
The village just after the Lyndhurst Mansion is Irvington where there are decent places to get food and fluids. You’ll then go through a few other cute towns (e.g. Dobbs Ferry 🎦, Hastings-on-Hudson 🎦), then you’ll go through Yonkers. Northern Yonkers is lovely, but the more urban part of Yonkers is a bit rougher.
There’s a stretch between Van Cortlandt Park and Inwood Hill Park where you’ll be on city streets. If you’re not used to urban riding take the entire lane when there’s more than one lane in your direction, and ignore drivers that are rude (don’t engage them). NYC drivers are pretty accustomed to bikes, but the traffic is so horrible these days they may just generally be frustrated.
In Inwood Hill Park you’ll get onto the Hudson Greenway which you’ll take to 181st Street, which is just a few blocks from where you started, if you want to wrap things up and go home. But we’re suggesting people head up to Fort Tryon Park to hang out and socialize a bit. You can pick up some food and fluids as you pass 187th Street. (If you want to have a beer please put it in an empty water bottle to avoid getting ticketed.) We’ll be meeting at Linden Terrace where there are nice views of the Hudson and it’s close to the actual fort which has views east to Fort George Hill.