Borough(s): Queens, Distance: 2.2 miles, Elevation: 104′, Terrain: Flat bike paths, with one hill leading up to reservoir, Ride Rating: @
Queens Ridgewood Reservoir Ride
The Ridgewood Reservoir is part of Highland Park, which, when you see the street that this ride starts on, feels as suburban as its name. The park straddles the Brooklyn/Queens border, but the reservoir, which was decommissioned in 1990, is in Queens. It sits atop the Harbor Hill Moraine, and is now the home of a reappearing forest, wetlands, even a bog, all of which makes it a good place for experiencing ecological diversity in the city.
A ride in the park.
The Ridgewood Reservoir is a great spot for a leisurely spin in a great slow ride. Good for beginners. Good for kids. Good for people who want an out-of-the-way place for experiencing nature in the middle of the big city. If you’re riding in from a train, we took the subway, the ride to the ride, from our starting point, is almost as long as the ride itself.
But in that, there is beauty. Getting off the A train, you’ll find an industrial environment, and when you turn the corner onto Highland Boulevard, you’ll find yourself thrust into a sleepy suburbia, with large detached homes and comfortable front yards.
The route itself is similarly relaxed. After riding by the playground at the start, you’ll be pedaling around woods and through fields en route to the reservoir.
Once you cross the street and climb the short rise up the reservoir, you’re suddenly riding a ring above what feels like an arboretum, with the only sense of civilization being the hum of the Jackie Robinson Parkway nearby. But even it feels much farther away than it actually is.
The reservoir, having been decommissioned over 20 years ago, seems to be given to natural decay, with the basins filling in. This is a great thing, as the reservoir is part of an avian migration route, which explains how 127 species of birds were observed during a count in 2007. There are benches along the eastern edge; you can look into the reservoir or out over Brooklyn.
While you can head back to the start of the ride after one short 1.2 mile loop of the reservoir, we’d go around a few more times, stopping now and again to check out both the returning fauna, flora, and wildlife, but also the great views, as on a clear day, you can see all the way past the Rockaways to the Atlantic.
Victuals and liquids.
You can find basic eats by the subway stops. Atlantic Avenue, which is between Van Siclen and Liberty Avenues, is a veritable eating alley.
Living amongst the dead.
Across the Jackie Robinson Parkway is The Evergreens Cemetery. It’s a 225-acre ground designed by landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing in the 1850s as a burial site and retreat. Visiting funerary momuments is hardly unusual in other parts of the world. Ever heard of the Taj Mahal? You’ll have to leave your bikes at the entry and walk the grounds. Call ahead to see when there are tours.
Specs (Queens Ridgewood Reservoir Ride)
Distance: 2.2 miles
Terrain: Flat bike paths, with one hill leading up to reservoir.
Ride Rating: @
Notes: A simple ride in a small park. Great for beginners
Includes: A PDF with intelligence and a GPX file to upload to your bike computer or mobile device.