New York State offers a number of first class biking adventures for all interests.
New York State is best known, of course, for New York City – considered by many to be the premier city on the East Coast. However anyone choosing to consider a biking trip in New York State will quickly find that there are a multitude of other options available. In addition to The City, New York State also borders two of the Great Lakes, has the huge Adirondack State Park, and countless sites of historical and cultural importance.
Choosing just one bicycling adventure in New York State is difficult, not because of any lack, but rather because of the vast opportunities available. For those looking for a short excursion, there are many trails and routes through the scenic Adirondack State Park. Lake Placid, the site of the 1980 winter Olympics, offers a number of easy road and off road trips in the area, with a strong tourist industry to meet the needs of anyone from out of town. Another off road option is to consider following part of the Erie Canal on its route from Buffalo to Albany and, beyond.
Some areas of the state are particularly suited to traveling by bicycle – the slower pace allows the rider to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, the many historical sites, and other local industries. One such area is the Finger Lakes area between Rochester and Syracuse. These six glacial lakes running approximately north-south are the home of some beautiful hill country. Lake Cayuga, the largest of the lakes, runs from Seneca Falls at the north end of the lake to Ithaca at the south end. The lake is about 35 miles long, and in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine country. An easy two day trip could be planned starting in Seneca Falls, seeing the historic sites there, including the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. From there, going down the west coast of the lake, stopping at the numerous scenic over views, and wineries, until coming to the small city of Ithaca. While students at Ithaca College and Cornell university claim that the sun never visits Ithaca, most of them don’t stay long enough during the summer to see just how lovely the city and its environs are. Also Ithaca boasts a number of unique eateries, including the famous Moosewood Restaurant. After spending the night in Ithaca, either at one of the many hotels, or perhaps even a B&B, or at a campground, take time to visit the Johnson Museum of Art on the Cornell campus before going north up the east side of the lake, again, at a leisurely pace, enjoying the sights, and sites along the way.
For longer trips for the more experienced bicyclist New York State has three major bicycle routes. Bicycle routes 5, 9 and 17 are laid out on public roads through the state and offer longer trips through the length and breadth of the state. Route 5 begins near Buffalo and parallels the Erie Canal going east to Albany, and to the border with Massachusetts. Those who wish to continue riding may continue along US Route 20 into Massachusetts, following it all the way into Boston, if so desired. Route 9 parallels the Hudson River going north from New York City to the Canadian border. Sites of interest along this route include the US Military Academy at West Point, and the battlefield at Ticonderoga. Route 17 follows the southern border of New York State along the edge of the Catskill Mountains, and then along the Southern Tier. Some of the other sites along the way on Bicycle Route 17 include Corning, NY and the Corning Glass Museum.
One other lovely route to be mentioned is the Seaway Trail. The Seaway Trail follows the northern coast of New York State along both Lakes Erie and Ontario, and then the St. Lawrence Seaway. It is impossible for words to describe accurately just how breathtaking the scenery along the Seaway Trail can be. My personal recommendation would be to bike this during the height of the fall foliage season and enjoy the crisp autumn weather and the gorgeous scenery at once.
Anyone interested in planning any of the trips mentioned here can find maps and further information at the New York State Department of Transportation’s website for bicycle and pedestrian trails and routes. The website offers links for any prospective biker for specific events, to acquire maps or other information as well.