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Shaping the Route

Favorite spots -- and which side of the river when?

On a one-way Hudson river route, you get a choice for each bridge-to-bridge section:  Which side of the river to take.  We made our selections of sides for this route, partly to make it avoid some parts we'd rather avoid -- but mostly to take the route through some of our favorite spots:

  • George Washington Bridge to Bear Mountain -- West side

We like the ride across the great GWB, the woods along the river below the Palisades, cruising fast along the rolling hills of Route 9W, the village of Piermont, food at the Runcible Spoon in Nyack, the secret path starting in Nyack Beach State Park right next to the water and then through the woods (but see Condition Reports -- West side), the views along the river through Stony Point, Iona Island, and Hessian Lake by the Bear Mountain Lodge.

But lately we've started preferring the "interior" route of sections A and B of the NYC to Bear Mt Adventure, because of beautiful Seven Lakes Drive in Harriman State Park -- and the variety of the "suburban home architecture" tour of New Jersey, perhaps with a side trip to the beautiful paved off-road path along the Saddle River in the parks of Bergen County NJ.

Or perhaps some would prefer riding close to the River up thru Piermont and Nyack and Haverstraw, perhaps even to Stony Point, then west somehow to connect with Rockland county Rt 106 to go to Seven Lakes Drive.

East side?  We've done the East side a couple of times in the North-to-South direction, and there's some nice riding and views and sites to visit -- but also some more difficult traffic interaction and navigation.  The other riders we've heard from prefer the West side.  When we ride this section of the East side, we prefer the North-to-South direction.

  • Bear Mt to Newburgh-Beacon Bridge -- West side

We chose West for the U. S. Army military academy campus at West Point and views over the Hudson at West Point, the curves and hills of the old Storm King highway and views across to Breackneck Ridge, the beach at Cornwall-on-Hudson, and the cruise by the river industries of Newburgh. 

Unfortunately in recent years the West Point campus has often been closed to public access on bicycles, so come prepared to make an alternate route. 

  • Newburgh-Beacon to Mid-Hudson Bridge -- West side

We choose for the quiet roads along the river on the way to Marlboro, the view from Ridge Road over the whole valley, the riding through classic apple orchard country, including the apple distributors in Milton, and the possibility of side trips to vineyards.

The East side has some good sections, but it is more suburban.

If the plan is to stay on the West side for the next section north, might be better to find some route that goes more directly to New Paltz, and just bypass the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

  • Mid-Hudson to Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge -- East side

We chose for the view from Waryas Park in Poughkeepsie, the quiet riding near the river below Rhinecliff, and the village of Rhinebeck.   (There is also the option of sampling some of the historic mansions around Hyde Park -- but those are on a high-speed road).

But lately we've starting to prefer going thru New Paltz, and then taking the New Paltz to Kingston Waterfront route to the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge.

And the most scenic way is would be to take New Paltz to Ashokan Reservoir and Woodstock around Ashokan Reservoir to Woodstock, then some secondary roads to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.

  • Kingston-Rhinecliff to Rip Van Winkle Bridge -- East side

We would not miss the orchards and farms of southwestern Columbia county.  And there is lunch in Tivoli, and the historic mansion and famous hilltop view of Olana.

But consider as alternatives reversing some roads from the second half of Rhinebeck-Tivoli route.

  • Rip Van Winkle Bridge to Albany -- East side

We like the view of the river and lighthouse from the west end of Warren Street in Hudson, then the views on both sides of Route 9, riding along Kinderhook creek, and  would not miss riding Route 21 through the farms of northwestern Columbia county and into southern Rensselaer county.

(and we like it that this choice avoids the section just south of Albany on the West side.)

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Switching sides

The more often you switch sides, the more excuses you have for riding across big bridges.  We think this is a good thing.  Our advice:  Cross every bridge at least once even if you're not switching sides -- if only for a quick across-and-back-again just to do it.

One-way which direction?

We've given the route in the South-to-North direction.  That happens to be the direction we've done most of the individual sections when we've taken them as part of a daytrip loop.  But perhaps it is laid it out that way because it feels natural for us to take a big journey "to" somewhere.  Since we already live and work in the New York metro area, the "to" end feels like it must be away, to Albany.  

Perhaps if you live in a small-city or rural area, your natural "to" will be a finish at the modern urban mecca of New York City, and you'll want to do this route in the North-to-South direction. 

Making it into a loop

There is enough good riding along the Hudson river to think about making a loop up to Albany and back.  Our advice on that:  

  • Cross the Hudson river as many times as you can -- the ideal is every bridge twice (except Albany).  Think "figure-eights".
  • We do not know (yet) a good route from Manhattan to the Bear Mt Bridge on the East side of the Hudson river.  So we suggest starting the trip with an inland route West through New Jersey and then North into New York to Bear Mountain, so that you can get that over with and finish the trip on the normal West-side river route, in the South-bound direction.
  • Other than the GWB - Bear Mt section, we suggest including both sides of the river, which you can get by taking pieces from our bridge-to-bridge loop routes on this website.  

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Doing it in separate smaller sections

Instead of doing the whole route in one continuous push, another approach is to take it in sections -- like on different weekends -- choose the ones with the best weather.

Simplest is to avoid the complication of setting up shuttles by doing loop trips.  Take some of the bridge-to-bridge loop routes on this website and join them into chains and figure-eights. 

Another approach is to use the Metro North and Amtrak trains to shuttle you between the finish and your start.  See our page on train stations.

Bicycle Route 9

There is an official marked bicycle route from the George Washington Bridge to Albany (and beyond).  The little green signs have a "9" on them.  (New York state also has other official bike routes 5 and 17 and 28, which also have sections in the Hudson Valley.)  Our route coincides with "Bike 9" in several places.  So an obvious variation is to substitute a section of Bike 9 for a section of our route. 

For more information, see

Some things to keep in mind about Bicycle Route 9:

  • it's likely a safer fall-back route than just choosing roads off a map
  • markings are sometimes missing at critical points -- though having the official maps of the route should help if that happens.
  • sometimes more traffic than our route
  • sometimes less scenic than our route -- but also less hilly

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further North from Albany

What about continuing on further north from Albany to Glens Falls or even Montreal?

For up to Glens Falls and Lake George, see

That Reports page also has a link to at least one report with photos of a tour from Montreal to NYC.

Amtrak has train service to stations near Glens Falls and up to Montreal [as of June 2004].  There are also bus lines.  But be sure to check each train or bus line's policies on transporting bicycles.

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more . . . 

see also

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