(Note: Bikas organizer-in-chief Joe Linton is moving to Jersey City, New Jersey, in January 2013. I am here now through mid-November. For the foreseeable future, I will be blogging NJ/NYC bike stuff here at Bikas blog.)
Last weekend, my fiance and I took a two-day weekend trip to Tarrytown, NY – about 30 miles north of Jersey City. We took the PATH train across to World Trade Center, then hopped on the NYC Subway 1 Line which goes from lower Manhattan to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. At the north edge of the park, the northern border of New York City, is the beginning of a nice long rail-to-trail project, which goes by the somewhat generic name: South County Trailway. See the link for a brochure with a handy trail map.
The southern end of the South County bike path was a little hard to find. We exited the 1 train at 242nd, right across from Van Cortlandt Park. We rode through/along the west edge of the park… but then ended up riding through streets in lower Yonkers to find the entrance to the trail, which was on the other side of the Henry Hudson Parkway, thus not easily accessible all along. There’s probably an easier way to get into the middle of the park and start at the beginning of the trail.
From there it was very smooth sailing. We bicycled nearly 12 miles mostly through fairly lush woodlands, with changing fall colors. The path, an old railroad right-of-way, roughly follows the Saw Mill River, which also includes the Saw Mill River Parkway. It passes along Yonkers, Hastings on Hudson, Ardsley, Greenburgh, Irvington, and more. It’s difficult to tell exactly where one is, because the path itself is all pretty woodsy.
There are a few small streets that cross the bike path; about a dozen in a dozen miles. There are crosswalks, and the few drivers we encountered at crossings waved us through.
At Elmsford, there’s a short (about 0.5 mile) gap where we had to ride on fairly un-bike-friendly streets to get to the next segment. Not so bad, but jarring after nearly a dozen miles of peaceful quiet bike-only facility.
The path continues further north, but we got off near the Tarrytown reservoir where there’s a connecting bike path that runs along the southern edge of the reservoir lake. We pedaled down to Tarrytown and enjoyed spending time with old friends. On the way back we put our trains on the Metro North Train to Grand Central Station, then biked to the PATH station disembarking back in Jersey City. All in all a very pleasant car-free weekend out of town.