City Riding Nirvana Paved
For years, the path through Van Cortlandt was unpaved. It was peaceful, but muddy much of the year. It was paved in 2020 and re-opened to the public in November, 2020. Now the Bronx Van Cortlandt Bike Ride is smoother and easier than ever.
A lIttle about VCP
Van Cortlandt Park is the fourth-largest city park, comprising 1,146-acres along the Bronx-Yonkers border and containing the city’s largest lake. It’s a long-time city playground, with the nation’s first-ever public golf course, the “parade ground,” which is a hugely popular cross-country running venue, and room for baseball, basketball, bocce, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, soccer, swimming, tennis, and, of course, cycling.
The Ride Story
Cyclists look at the size of Van Cortlandt, and all the activities that go on within its confines and imagine the park would be perfect for mountain biking and cyclocross. The park could be ideal for these kinds of riding, but the time isn’t right. For now, we can accept riding around the park and inside it on the designated bike paths.
The ride starts at the southwestern corner of the park just on the street by the wolf statue that greets park visitors. Ride north with the park on your right and the end of the 1 train on your left. You’ll immediately see the more traditional urban park facilities: baseball, soccer, basketball, a playground, and the entrance to a swimming pool.
Just after those amenities , you’ll pass the Van Cortlandt House Museum and beyond that the Parade Grounds where soccer, baseball, and cross-country running takes place. The park then turns to forest, and will pretty much remain forest until you reach the northern end of the park on the Yonkers border.
Over The Border (still the Bronx Van Cortlandt Bike Ride)
Once in Yonkers, you hug the northern edge of the park while meandering through the southern edge of Yonkers; the meanders are due to following the direction of traffic on one-way streets.
Once over the Saw Mill River Parkway, you’re looking to get on the bike path. When you hit the South County Trailway, you’re turning left to head south. If you turn right, you can take this trailway north, ride it 13 miles to Elmsford, then get on the North County Trailway and take it another 22 miles to the Putnam County line. And then continue on another 12 miles on the Putnam County Trail to Brewster where you can take Metro-North back to New York City. But I digress.
Turn left to get on the path. The path eventually turns to dirt. By the time you’re reading these words, it is supposed to be paved, but in case it isn’t, know that it could be muddy in or immediately following a rain. This is a pretty section that takes you past Van Cortlandt Lake, and eventually leads back to the southern edge of the park, which is a few hundred feet from the start.
Just up the street from the start of the ride, and right next to the subway stop is a commercial strip across the street from the park. Just north of the stop is Broadway Joe’s Pizza as well as the M&M Deli. But there are tons of places to eat on Broadway, both just north of the park in Yonkers and just south in The Bronx. If you’re a diner fan, there are several to choose from.
Side Trip (if you have the time and desire)
After you’ve done a loop or two of this Bronx Van Cortlandt bike ride, check out the Van Cortlandt House Museum. It’s The Bronx’s oldest house, a 18th century Georgian fieldstone and brick estate. It’s a city and national landmark and has been a museum since 1897.
Specs (Bronx Van Cortlandt Bike Ride)
Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation: 299 feet
Terrain: Largely rolling, with one uphill of note.
Ride Rating: @@
Notes: The Van Cortlandt Park part of the ride was paved in mid-2020, and re-opened in November, 2020.
Bx01 and Bx03 are nearby and can be combined to make larger loops.
Includes: A PDF with intelligence and a GPX file to upload to your bike computer or mobile device.