The change from summer to fall is a wonderful time in New York State. Visitors from all over the country come to see the stunning fall foliage displays throughout the region, and many bring along their bicycles for the trip.
If there’s anything better than taking in the autumn scenery in New York, it’s doing so on two wheels on one of the state’s world-class bike trails.
Whether you’re up in the Adirondacks, down on Long Island or even in New York City, you’re too never far from a scenic bike ride.
This expansive system within Adirondack Park is one of the most unique New York bike trails. Comprised of 9 separate trails, the system can be modified to fit the needs or desires of any bicyclist or group. A bike ride can be anywhere from 2.5 to 100 miles. And in the fall, the trails give varying views of the changing leaves. Some go through dense forest, while others run along lakes and streams. A few of the trails even include mountain vistas that provide breathtaking views of the Adirondacks.
Another trail that used to be a railroad line, the Bloomingdale Bog Trail offers fall foliage views in a forest setting that surrounds a bog. The bog creates an entirely different perspective of the changing leaves and a glimpse into a unique environment and the diverse wildlife that lives there. The trail can be bumpy at times, but is still suitable for beginner mountain bikers. A small section of the 16-mile trail has been flooded due to beavers damming a stream, but it is easy to walk a bike through.
The Catskill Scenic Trail winds for 26 miles through valleys and small towns and along the Delaware River. The trail is unique in that it brings cyclists through both forested areas and farmlands, creating a diverse fall bike ride that is far from boring. There is very little change in terms of elevation along the trail, making it a good place for family bike rides.
Central New York
This historic and scenic trail, stretched for 36 miles along the Old Erie Canal, is the location of the former towpath on which animals would tow vessels along the canal. In the fall months, cyclists can enjoy the local foliage as they ride along a vital piece of New York’s history, and also catch glimpses of the leaves on the surrounding mountains.
Stretching over a mile long, 212 feet above the Hudson River, the Walkway Over the Hudson is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world. It’s also one of the most beautiful bike trails to experience, particularly in the fall when surrounded by the warm fall foliage colors on display in Dutchess and Ulster Counties. Extending to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in the west and the Dutchess Rail Trail in the east, the Walkway is part of an 18-mile paved path through the wilderness.
This nearly 24-mile trail, once home to the Wallkill Valley Railroad, takes hikers and bicyclists from Gardiner, through New Paltz and into Kingston, winding along rivers, over bridges and through valleys, offering cyclists plenty of opportunities to enjoy the New York fall foliage.
This relatively short, six-mile trail gives bicyclists excellent views of Long Island’s fall foliage. It is located entirely in the Massapequa Preserve, one of the largest protected nature areas on the south shore. The trail is paved, which makes it ideal for beginners and families with children to enjoy the fall colors. Riders can keep going past the preserve, as the trail extends up into Bethpage State Park. Those who frequent the trail describe it as a quiet oasis in the heart of the densely populated area.
New York City/Westchester
When it opened in 1842, the Croton Aqueduct was a modern marvel that supplied New York City with water from reservoirs upstate by using just gravity. Today, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail runs for 22 miles along its former route. Easily accessible from the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park, the trail runs past historic homes, two nature preserves and provides panoramic views of the Hudson River for great views of the foliage on both sides of the water.
Western New York
This 65,000 acre park has something for every bicyclist. For the less experienced, the five miles of paved trails around the Red House area of the park make for a relaxing and scenic fall ride. For more experienced bikers, the Art Roscoe Ski Touring Area is known to have some of the best maintained mountain bike trails in the region. The park is part of the northern reaches of the Alleghany National Forest and offers a look at virtually untouched nature and fall foliage.
AAA Bicycle Service is free and available to all AAA Northeast members. If your bicycle breaks down while you’re out for a ride, simply call the road service number on your AAA card (1-800-AAA-HELP) for 24/7 assistance. Learn more.
For more fall foliage hikes, bikes, train rides, drives and much, much more, visit AAA.com/NortheastFoliage.
By John McHugh