Where to Ride Your Mountain Bike in the NJ/NY area
In most metro NY/NJ park and forest areas, mountain bikes (ATBs), like horses and other alternative trail uses, are allowed only on trails specifically designated for their use.
In southern New York, there is a designated shared-use trails in Fahnestock State Park (our East Hudson maps) and an extensive network in Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve (Shawangunk maps). A permit is required at Mohonk; 914/255-0919. In Harriman-Bear Mtn. State Park no ATBs are allowed as yet, however an ATB trail network is being planned by park authorities and volunteers (hopefully ready in spring 1996). ATBs are permitted in Black Rock Forest (West Hudson maps); permit required, 914/534-4517. Just west of Newburgh, try the Stewart Airport properties. A free permit is required; visit airport Bldg. #138. For information, call 914/564-2100 (then dial 8). In Westchester, the 26-mile Old Croton Aqueduct/Trailway State Park allows ATBs and there are 7 miles of ATB trails in the Blue Mtn. Reservation, call 914/593-PARK. On Long Island, call the LI Greenbelt Trail Conference @ 516/360-0753 or write Climb (Concerned LI Mountain Bicyclists), PO Box 203, Woodbury NY 11797. Catskill trails are open to ATB's but many are almost impossible. Look for the trails routed over old woods roads. Please observe the IMBA code; avoid the designated wilderness areas. No ATB riding allowed in any NYC park (including Staten Is.) nor on the Appalachian Trail.
New Jersey areas that allow ATBs on designated trails include Wawayanda and Ringwood State Park & Ramapo Mtn. State Forest. In West Jersey (Kittatinny Trails maps) enjoy large sections of High Point State Park and Stokes State Forest. Other ATB areas include designated trails in these NJ Parks and Forests: Allaire, Allamuchy, Belleplain, Cheesequake, D&R Canal, Estell Manor, Hartshorne Woods, Lebanon, Monmouth Battlefield, Parvin, Round Valley, Washington's Crossing and some others.
Morris County offers two prime locations. One is Lewis Morris Park, just outside of Morristown. Another is Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, located off Route 15 in Jefferson Township. I have ridden in both places. Should you need more information, e-mail me. For the latest information, I suggest you contact the specific park before you go. NJ Parks Regional Office can be reached at 201/827-8848.
Local bike shops are also sources of information and often sponsor group rides. But, always play it safe and check first with the land managing agency as we have heard of some bike shops giving out incorrect or out-dated information.
The Catskill trail system is currently completely open to mountain biking. Please note the caveat, most trails there are not, however, rideable. The Catskill mountain trails are primarily steep and very rocky which make it virtually impossible to enjoy on a bike except if your name happens to be Hans "No Way" Rey. Before you embark on your Catskill mountain bike adventure, it is recommended that you purchase the NYNJ Trail Conference Catskill map set. The maps can be purchased at most delis and outdoor shops in and around the Catskills.
Following are short descriptions of Catskill trails that are passable on a mountain bike.
South Mountain In Haines Falls, take North Lake Road (off Rt. 23A) to Scutt Road. Right on Scutt Road into parking area on right. Trail head begins over foot bridge at end of Scutt. Follow Red/Blue or Yellow trail markers and make your own loops. When you reach the edge of the Escarpment on the Red trail, check out the Catskill Mountain site with its extensive views of the Hudson Valley; the trail beyond is not rideable.
Note for advanced riders: Using your trail map take Sleepy Hollow Horse Trail down into Palenville (awesome downhilling!), turn left onto Rt. 23A to Bogart Road. Left onto Bogart. Follow to Mountain Turnpike Road. Follow Mtn Turnpike Road (look for DEC trial signs) and take back up the mountain to North Lake Boat House. Killer uphill ride! Plan for 2 1/2 hour round trip.
Colgate Lake Yellow Trail Off Rt. 23A at Tannersville traffic light turn right onto Route 23C (not marked well - I think its Hill Street). Avoid the Rt 25 short cut, as of 8/15/01 the road has a detour in it prior to reaching the 23C intersection. Follow 23C west to Colgate Road in the town of Jewett and turn right. Park at the third Parking lot (on right). Trail begins there. Follow Yellow markers in as far as you want to go, then turn around. Good ride but tough when wet.
Trial maps will show a lake that has since dried up. I understand the beaver dam that created the lake years ago has let go leaving a nice open ,meadow. This ride is relatively flat and good for beginner/intermediate riders.
Mink Hollow Blue Trail Approximately 8 miles of what was once an old loggin road between Elka Park (Greene County) and Lake Hill (Ulster County). Trail runs between a number of mountains. The trail, is a bit washed out from the floods of 1996, but worth the effort.
At Tannersville traffic light turn onto County Road 16 and follow to Elka Park Road. bear left at Elka Park Post Office and keep the road to left, to Mink Hollow Road.
Elm Ridge Ride From the Bike Shop at Winham Mountain Outfitters, take a left out of parking lot, and follow Route 296 straight through Hensonville, cross bridge and bear right on Rt. 40. In Maplecrest, make left on Rt. 56. Make left on Peck Road and follow to end, where the trail begins. Trail is difficult in sections, so be prepared to walk a bit. Follow trail to trail intersection signs, double back 100 yards and make right onto unmarked trail. Follow trail to end, and make right down the hill. At end of hill, turn right and return to the Bike Shop. 3 1/2 miles, intermediate to advanced.
If you can recommend more Catskill rides, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the local riding most of the ski resorts in the Northeast offer mountain biking in the summer months. Below are links to some of our favorites:
PlattekillMtbR Trail Reviews
Killington - Daily Express rail service from NYC to Rutland on the Ethan Allen Express.
Back to Morrison's Mountain Biking Page