This Upper Manhattan bike ride is a study in contrasts. The greenway segments along the Harlem and Hudson rivers are amongst the least utilized greenway paths on Manhattan Island. Riding along Dyckman and 125th shows Manhattan at its most commercial.
Lots of Greenway. Much of it forgotten.
The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is good and getting better all the time. Eventually, this greenway will encompass the entire perimeter of Manhattan Island, but for now, it exists in sections with some on-street linkages. Indeed, we take advantage of the greenway for many rides.
This is probably our favorite greenway loop. Even though the ride takes in some busy roads, the greenway sections are so quiet they more than make up for the car traffic on the street.
We’re on this loop a few times a month. Our favorite section is the part along the Harlem River, as we usually have it to ourselves and because it parallels a bit of New York City cycling history, as the Harlem River Drive from north of the exit for the George Washington Bridge to Dyckman is the site of the Harlem Speedway, a venue for bicycle racing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Dyckman is one of two commercial zones you’ll pass through on the ride. on both the east side, where you can check out Swindlers Cove, and on the west side, where you can check out the marina and Inwood Hill Park.
Drop down to the Little Red Lighthouse.
The descent to the Hudson is also a blast, as the drop feels like you’re on a roller coaster coming off a cliff. Once on the water, the Little Red Lighthouse is nearby, the view south to the mouth of the Hudson is usually incredible.
The Hudson River side of the ride, once you get south of the ballfields, can get over-crowded on summer weekends with grillers and revelers, but with this exception, the path is pretty empty at all times.
And if you want to extend the ride, you can stay on the path down to 96th Street, or further depending on how you’re feeling or what kind of time you have. If you want to go longer, you can basically just start doing the reverse of the Riverside Park loop, which is also detailed and take it to 72nd Street, before turning around and heading back north to 125th, and then onto St. Nicholas Park.
Snacks and Drinks.
Dyckman Street and 125th Street are fairly busy commercial corridors, so you’ll have your choice of fast food joints, pizza places, Chinese food, and even some gourmet offerings. Maison Harlem is good local dining. Juice bars seem to be popping up everywhere. And the Harlem Piers have the Baylander, a converted vessel.
If you make a right on Seaman Avenue and take it less than a mile, you’ll come to Inwood Hill Park. Great place for picnicking, silent contemplation and hiking, it also has plenty of open grounds, courts and fields. Closer to the end, the Harlem Piers have good views.
Minutiae (Upper Manhattan Bike Ride)
Getting to the start:The B and C trains stop just underneath he start of this ride, but the ride is easily accessible via the A, D, 1, 2, and 3 trains as well.
Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation: 696 Feet
Terrain: Open roads, protected bike lanes, and park bike paths
Ride Rating: @
Notes: The uphills are gradual. The parks are generally quiet. The views are excellent.