Borough: Manhattan, Distance: 3 miles, Elevation: Not Applicable, Terrain: MTB Trails and Park, Ride Rating: @-@@@@
Coogan’s Bluff. And then some.
Highbridge is a deceptive park. Considering that it is a few miles long, there’s very little room for riding. That’s because most of the park is a ridge; a little space before a cliff that falls down to the Harlem River Drive. Still, there is a network of paved and unpaved trails and atop the ridge at the north end are the Highbridge trails. Hence the Highbridge Park MTB Trails.
Just above the Harlem Speedway.
There is an irony to riding trails in Highbridge Park. Just below is the Harlem River Drive, once known as the Harlem Speedway. The Speedway was a popular site for bicycle racing in the heady early days of the sport. Bicycles supplanted horses back then. And cars have supplanted bikes. Now bikes are allowed between the Harlem River Drive and the Harlem River along the Greenway and here in the park above.
The trails in Highbridge, few in number, short, and relatively simple, undermine the difficulty of getting them built and the importance of them. The Highbridge mountain bike trails were the first mtb trails to be approved and allowed by the New York City Parks Department.
Permitted Off-Road Riding in New York City.
As written above, riding on these trails is allowed by the Parks Department. The New York City Mountain Bike Association built the trails and maintains them, as they do all the official NYC MTB trails. If you find you love urban mountain biking, volunteer to help them in their mission.
While the park has beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails and a dirt-jump park, noobs should stick to the beginner’s trails at the top of the park. They should also work on balance skills in the dirt jump park, though only when it is on the empty side of things most of the time. You can go down the hill for the intermediate trails and link up to a small lower loop of beginners trails, including a skills loop, but we found it pretty easy to accidentally end up on an expert trail or the short double black-diamond drop.
Yes, these trails are short, only three miles of trails if you ride every one, but if you want to get a taste of mountain biking or work on your skills, the convenience these trails offer is hard to beat.
Nips and toasts.
There are no shortage of Latin American restaurants along Nagle Avenue right after you get off the train, and the intersection of Dyckman and Nagle is rich with choices. The nearest and simplest food is the 24 7 Deli Grocery at the intersection of Fort George Hill and St. Nicholas Avenue.
If you go down the hill and cross the Harlem River Drive, you’re just up the Greenway from Swindler Cove Park. The park, part of the New York Restoration Project, has salt marshes and a forest. Open seven days a week, from 8am-4pm save holidays.
Fine Points (Highbridge Park MTB Trails)
The way to the ride:The 1 train stop at Dyckman Street is the closest subway stop, though you’ll have to ride up the steep Fort George Hill on a protected bike lane to get to Highbridge Park or ride to the eastern end of Dyckman and try to climb the trails there—know that these trails are steep and rooty.
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: Not Applicable
Terrain: MTB Trails and Park
Ride Rating: @-@@@@
Notes: The easy trails can be done on a cyclocross bike or gravel bike, the expert stuff calls for a full-suspension mtb ride. The dirt jump park calls for skill and strength.